i. 1 x i
S. G. and E. L. ELBERT
IJrftHMtlril liU ELLA SMITH ELBERT
XV KATHARINE E. COMAN
CHARLES F. DOLE
D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS
By CHARLES F. DOLE.
Typography by J. S. Ctjshing & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
Prksswork by Berwick & Smith, Boston, U.S.A.
after the type of
Washington, the Adamses, and Lincoln,
noble, devoted, disinterested, magnanimous, fearless, reverent,
this book is dedicated.
There seems to be a growing demand for the more adequate
teaching of morals in the schools, especially with reference
to the making of good citizens. But it is difficult to teach
morals directly, or apart from the concrete subjects about
which moral questions grow. Neither can sound morals be
taught at all, without the touch of enthusiasm.
We have, however, in the great and interesting subjects of
the conduct of governments, business, and society, precisely
the kind of material to furnish us indirectly with innumerable
moral examples. The consideration of the public good, the
welfare of the nation, or the interests of mankind, lies in the
very region where patriotic emotion and moral enthusiasm are
most naturally kindled.
The design of this book grew out of a smaller one, The Citi-
zen and the Neighbor, which, though intended for a very lim-
ited use, was received with such kindly favor by teachers and
others, as to encourage me to try to meet a larger need.
I have had specially in view the large class of boys and girls
in the upper grades of grammar schools and in high schools, or
academics, as well as many adults who may wisli to make a
beginning in the study of citizenship. Only a few scholars
can be expected to goto college or to take a thorough course in
Political Economy and Politics. But all must become citizens
with the responsibility of acting in private or public upon
various grave and difficult problems. They ought not, surely,
to meet these problems without some intelligent and serious
view of their meaning.
Every intelligent boy or girl, indeed, may be presumed to
wish to know the facts about the government of our country
and our social institutions. The object of this book, however,
is not merely to state these facts, but also to illustrate the
moral principles which underlie the life of civilized men.
The thoughtful scholar asks to know why we establish and
maintain certain methods and usages.. He can much more
willingly honor the usage or obey the law after he has seen
that it is founded in justice. If he can perceive the purpose,
namely, the good of the whole, which all useful methods or cus-
toms are meant to serve; if he can be helped to understand
that respect and obedience for established rules and usages
will distinctly enhance human welfare and happiness ; if he
can catch the spirit of friendliness, which ennobles social
intercourse and public service ; if meanwhile he can see what
faults and perils threaten society and demand the patriotic
effort of each generation, he will thus be prepared for that
which is the aim of all education — to be a good citizen. For
information alone is obviously of little value unless our boys
and girls have acquired a decided moral impulse. We wish
them to know that they are not at school merely to learn how
to earn a living, or to be able to read many books, but to
become men and women who shall help the state by their lives
I have endeavored, therefore, to state with sufficient clear-
ness and illustration the chief facts and principles which every
good citizen ought to know. I have also wished to leave
such a permanent impression of the character of the subjects
treated, as to persuade the more thoughtful scholar or reader
to take up a more thorough course of study.
Some may regret that the book does not trace government
and ethics to a religious basis. I profoundly believe that
there is such a basis. It is possible, too, that it might be so
broadly and simply treated as to develop very general agree-
ment. But there are at present too many differences about
definitions and names to make this branch of our subject
suitable for a book designed for use in public schools. Mean-
while the political and economic facts here presented, and
the ethical laws which they suggest, will often, I hope, lead
the student to ask deeper questions, and therefore to find the
closer connection and unity of the various departments of
thought and life.
I have not hesitated in the case of important subjects to
accept the risk of some possible repetition. For the different
branches of our study run into each other and cannot be
sharply divided. Thus certain subjects belong at the same
time under the head of both Politics and Economics.
It will be obvious to the intelligent teacher that the kind
of study which this book is designed to serve must not be
made mere task-work. The main hope of its usefulness is by
awakening the interest of students and stimulating them to
think and talk freely about the various subjects considered.
One method of use in schools, which has been suggested by
a grammar school master, is as a reading-book for the ad-
vanced pupils. The teacher should then have the class dis-
cuss with him the subjects covered by the reading.
A short list of books, such as may be of interest to teachers
and the more thoughtful readers and suitable for school
libraries, has been added.
Besides the helpful service of my wife in revising the proof-
sheets, I have to express my obligation and thanks for the aid
and encouragement of my friends, Mr. John G. Brooks, In-
structor in Political Economy in Harvard University ; Mr.
Nicholas P. Gilrnan, the author of " Profit Sharing " ; and
Mr. George S. Merriam, the author of "The Life and Times
of Samuel Bowles," and other works.
CHARLES F. DOLE.
Jamaica Plain, Mass.,
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
THE BEGINNINGS OF CITIZENSHIP.
CHAPTER I. The Family and its Government. — Obedience.
Punishments. The home a primary school for the state. A true
family government. An exception 8
CHAPTER II. The Schoolroom and its Government. — Differ-
ent kinds of school government. Co-operation of the scholars
in the school government 9
CHAPTER III. The Playground : its Lessons. — The organized
playground. Public opinion. Taking risks. Playing to win.
CHAPTER IV. The Club or Debating Society. — The president
or chairman. The constitution and rules. The membership of the
club. The quorum. Fair notice of meetings. Changing the con-
stitution. Free discussion. The method of business ; one thing
at a time ; amendments. How to decide questions. Voting ; the
reconsideration. The secretary or clerk ; the treasurer ; filling the
offices . . .' 16
CHAPTER V. Personal Habits. The Conditions of Good Citi-
EBH8HIP. — Cleanliness and order; polite or civil manners ; exam-
ples. Money and its use. Thoroughness; honor; truth; self-
control ; the pure life. The narcotics and stimulants J 1
CHAPTER VI. The Principles that bind Men TOGETHER. —
Respect for others' rights; authority and reverence; majority
rights; responsibility; the use of power ; the public service. The
two classes : the strong and the weak ; chivalry 30
CHAPTER VII. The Different Di ties that Men OW1 i;u n
other. — Four divisions of our subject ; examples '■'< 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
THE CITIZEN AND THE GOVERNMENT ; OR THE RIGHTS
AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS.
CHAPTER VIII. The Purpose of Government. — What the
government is ; examples of the duties of the government. Two
opposite ideas about government ; individual liberty. Two natural
CHAPTER IX. Various Forms of Government. — Despotism ;
the aristocratic government ; ancient republics. Popular govern-
ment; the modern republic; the French Republic ; a centralized
government. The American idea of trusting the people .... 46
CHAPTER X. Local Government ; or Government by the
People themselves. — The town meeting ; the origin of the
town. The county ; the school district. Local patriotism ... 51
CHAPTER XL The States and Legislative Government. —
States ; the sovereignty of the State ; eminent domain. Why we
have states. The old states ; new states. Representative govern-
ment ; the beginning of legislatures ; how Parliament got power
away from the king ; American Parliaments. The legislature and
the people. The two houses of the legislature. The duties of leg-
islators. State rights and state jealousy ; state patriotism ... 55
CHAPTER XII. The People acting in Congress. —The Ameri-
can idea of government. General government ; the servants of the
people. The beginning of Congress; the Federal Union. How
Congress is made up ; the Senate ; the House of Representatives.
The Territories in Congress. Congressional districts ; gerryman-
dering. The powers of Congress ; the appeal to the country . . 63
CHAPTER XIII. Cities and their Government. Cities ; two
modes of electing aldermen. The city government and the legis-
lature. Where responsibility lies. Village charters 72
CHAPTER XIV. The Machinery of Government. The Execu-
tive. — Undivided responsibility. The veto power. The power
of the President. The Cabinet. The Governor's Council ... 77
CHAPTER XV. The Judicial Branch of the Government ; or
the Courts and the Laws. — The national and the State courts.
TABLE OF CONTENTS. XI
The election of judges. The better plan ; the appointment of
judges. The power of the courts. The machinery of the coin
The police. The jury. The grand jury. The delay of justice ;
the referee. The judge and the jury. Witnesses and the oath.
Habeas corpus ; bail. The common law and statute laws. The
laws and the right ; the tyranny of law. Freedom of speech and
the press 83
CHAPTER XVI. The Treasury and the Taxes. — The public
expenses. The taxes ; direct taxes ; the income tax. Double tax-
ation. The single, or land tax ; the duties of assessors. The poll
tax ; licenses, fees, etc. ; liquor licenses. The taxes for the nation ;
indirect taxes ; the internal revenue. The source of all taxes.
Exemptions from taxes. The public faith 94
CHAPTER XVII. The School System. — The common wealth.
Free schools. The higher education. What the public schools
should not teach. The teaching force. Women in the manage-
ment of the schools. The cost of the schools. Public and private
CHAPTER XVIII. The Civil Service and the Offices. — Civil
service reform ; a bad civil service in America ; the office-seekers ;
how reform came ; what remains to be done. The consular and
diplomatic service. Rotation in office ; an exception. Candidates
and their place of residence 108
CHAPTER XIX. Voting.— Viva voce; the show of hands; the
ballot. Fair election laws ; the Australian ballot. The elections.
Majority and plurality. AVho may vote ; property suffrage and
manhood suffrage ; woman suffrage. The purpose of voting . . 1 16
CHAPTEB XX. Political Parties. — Debate and discussion ; the
parpose of debate. The broad or narrow view of public questions.
Rules of debate. National parties; party organization. Inde-
CHAPTER XXI. Government hv Committees, nv POLITICIAHS,
bt Public Opinion. — The work of committees ; the difficulty with
committee action; the appointment of committees. The politi-
cians and how they contrive to rule ; rings. Public opinion and
how it acts 128
xil TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER XXII. The Citizen's Duties to his Government. —
Obeying the laws ; the care of public property ; the duty of voting ;
paying the taxes ; the duty of public service. Public spirit. Cer-
tain exceptions 133
CHAPTER XXIII. The Abuses and Perils of Government. —
Old- World abuses. Meddling with business. Like people, like
government. Faults of American government, — partisanship,
provincialism, jobbery, and patronage. The government and trade.
Public debts. The danger in borrowing. The ignorant vote.
Popular crazes. The tyranny of the majority. The lobby. The
saloon power. Rebellion and revolution 142
CHAPTER XXIV. Facts which Every one should know. Open
Questions. — The chief officers of the national government. The
chief state officers. Town, city, and county officers. Open ques-
tions, — the tariff, or free trade and protection ; prohibition and
license ; national aid to education, etc 152
CHAPTER XXV. Improvements in Government. Radicals and
Conservatives. — The electoral college. The time of the meet-
ing of Congress. The responsibility of the executive. The Cabinet
and Congress. Fewer elective officers. Longer terms of office.
The two-thirds vote. The reform of the caucus. Radicals and
conservatives. The ideal citizen 158
ECONOMIC DUTIES ; OR THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF
BUSINESS AND MONEY.
CHAPTER XXVI. What Wealth is. — Natural wealth, wealth
in public works, wealth in men, wealth in paper, false wealth.
How wealth varies. The increase of wealth 169
CHAPTER XXVII. The Conditions of Wealth. — Unfavorable
conditions, — war ; piracy ; slavery ; caste ; prejudice against for-
eigners. The physical conditions of wealth, — the climate ; natural
resources ; the spur of necessity. Moral conditions, — enterprise
or energy ; intelligence ; taste ; honesty ; good faith or confidence ;
a state of peace ; courage ; humanity 175
TABLE OF CONTENTS. Xlll
CHAPTER XXVIII. To whom Wealth BILONOS, and how 11 n
divided. — The useful; by discovery and invention; by produc-
tion; by the work of distribution ; transportation ; protection; ad-
ministration and accounts ; economy and saving; instruction; by
providing comfort; recreation; personal and domestic servi.
the luxuries ; by the work of the family. The division of labor.
The division of wealth. The law of supply and demand .... 182
CHAPTER XXIX. The Institution of Propertv. — Wealth in
common, and its difficulties. The beginnings of property. Differ-
ences among men in tastes and capacity. Property by earning,
by exchange, by gift or inheritance, by natural genius, by accident
and good fortune, by possession. Property in land. Eminent
domain. Common property. The public interest in property.
Responsibility for property 191
CHAPTER XXX. Honest Money. — What money is. Changes in
money value. The double or single standard. A moral question.
The money of commerce. Paper money, bank bills, checks and
drafts. The government and paper money ; specie payments.
Gold and silver certificates. A national danger 190
CHAPTER XXXI. Capital, Credit, and Interest. — What capi-
tal is. How it grows. What credit is. Corporations. Profits,
rent, and interest, how they justly arise. The rate of interest ;
how it is fixed. Usury and usury laws. Should the government
lend money to its citizens ? . . . . | 205
CHAPTER XXXII. Labor and Competition. — The law of life.
Labor and wages ; labor and wealth. A common fallacy. The
hours of labor. The general duty of labor j different kinds of
lal Disturbances in industry; business crises. The free
3temj the law of freedom in industry. The good side in free-
dom; the moral side j certain evils ; the men at the bottom. Two
kinds of competition ; the competition of men, or emulation . . . lm:;
bHAPTEB XXXIII. The Grii,\ lm« i Ifl oi mi P :. — The two
extremes. The Socialists. The men and the system; the inehr-
cient; the ignorant; the idle; the unfortunate; the vicious. A
problem what to do. What the object of society is; freedom
and manhood; faith in our fellow-men. A summary 222
XIV TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER XXXIV. The Abuses and the Duties op Wealth.
— The significance of property. The class of the rich. The rich
who have done no service. The different uses of wealth. Monop-
olies, good or bad; checks upon monopolies. Land monopoly;
its cure. The rivalry of the rich. Waste by the rich. Capitalists.
The duties of wealth. Trusteeship ; service ; sharing ; public munif-
icence. In whose hands the wealth ought to be 228
CHAPTER XXXV. Buyers and Sellers ; or the Mutual Ben-
efit. — The idea of business. Legitimate and illegitimate busi-
ness. The law of supply and demand, or competition, in buying
and selling. Selling in the dearest market. Buying in the cheap-
est market. Freedom in trade. International freedom of trade.
Freedom in trade : what harm it may work ; the two sides. Pay-
ing one's debts ; bankruptcy 237
CHAPTER XXXVI. Employers and the Employed ; their In-
terests in each other. — The rights of employers; fidelity.
The rights of employees ; — wages or salary ; respect ; honest
management. The labor market. The human element. Low
wages and the limit of decency. The employees who cannot help
themselves. Employers who cannot help themselves. Indus-
trial warfare, strikes and lockouts ; trades-unions. The good in
trades- unions. Arbitration. The interests of employers and the
employed together. Co-operation and profit-sharing. Women's
work and wages. The commonwealth of labor 246
SOCIAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES ; OR THE DUTIES OF MEN AS
THEY LIVE TOGETHER IN SOCIETY.
CHAPTER XXXVII. The Rights and Duties of Neighbors. —
The growth of the neighborly feeling. Our rights. Neighborly
duties ; just judgment ; humane respect ; sympathy ; forbearance ;
assistance. Different grades of duties. What we do not owe to
neighbors. The difficulty in treating men as neighbors. The
social aim 257
CHAPTER XXXVHI. The Treatment or Crime. — Who are
criminals. Our duties to criminals. Punishments. Fines. Im-
TABLE OF CONTENTS. XV
prisonment. The death penalty. The rights of wrong-doers ; what
we ought to do. The indeterminate sentence. Prison reform.
The power of pardon. The prevention of crime. The detection of
crime. Lynch law. A final caution 263
CHAPTER XXXIX. How to help the Poor. — Pauperism. Char-
ity : the general law. Exceptional cases ; why society must give
relief. Who is responsible for the poor. The city poor and the
country poor. What kinds of help do no harm. Friendly gifts
and alms: the difference. "Not alms, but a friend." What is
being done. The Associated Charities. Savings banks. The
housing of the poor. Cautions. Rich beggars, paupers, and
CHAPTER XL. The Great Social Subjects. —The growth of
moral habits. The great rule of morals. Moral subjects that have
been settled. New moral questions ; lotteries and gambling ; gam-
bling in prices or stock speculation. The family ; the equal law
of purity for men and women. The marriage laws ; divorce . . 281
CHAPTER XLI. The Problems of Temperance. — The old-world
idea of temperance. Facts upon which all agree. The modern
or American idea. A new moral rule. The reformers. AVhat is
being done ; license. The drinking-saloon. Prohibition. Public
control of the liquor traffic. Local option. Moral education . . 287
INTERNATIONAL DUTIES ; OR THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES
CHAPTER XLII. International Law, and how it grows. —
Ancient warfare. International jealousy. The dawn of interna-
tional rights : Christianity. Popular government. Popular intelli-
gence. The reciprocity of interests. The new sentiment. Inter-
national law 297
CHAPTER XLIII. The Rights of Nations. — Three purposes of
international law. The diplomatic service. National rights ; do-
mestic affairs ; foreign commerce and intercourse ; the custom
house. Maritime rights. Rights of travel and residence abroad.
Authors' and Inventors 1 rights 301
XVI TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER XLIV. The Duties of Nations. — Obvious or recog-
nized duties. Duties of honor. The duties of nations towards
their colonies ; of civilized nations to the less civilized ; towards
tribes of savages. Our Indian wards. New methods of treating
the Indians 304
CHAPTER XLV. War and Arbitration ; Patriotism. — War
establishments. The reason for war. Just and unjust war. The
laws of war. Arbitration. An international court of appeal.
Patriotism and the national flag. Citizens by adoption. The
common humanity. Summary. A bit of philosophy. The two
kinds of conscience 309
Books Recommended for Reference 317
THE BEGINNINGS OF CITIZENSHIP.
THE BEGINNINGS OF CITIZENSHIP.
THE FAMILY AND ITS GOVERNMENT.
We come under government as soon as we are born. It
is the government of the family. One of our first lessons
is to obey the authority of parents or guardians. We find
at once that we cannot do as we please, but that others
besides ourselves must be regarded. So with the property
of the home, which must not be injured or wasted. If we
disobey, if we hurt the others, if we injure the house and
its furniture and try to do as we please, we immediately
find ourselves liable to punishment.
Obedience. — We have to obey this family government
whether we understand the reasons for it or not. If it
were not always perfectly just, the children would still
have to obey. But there must be some deep reasons why
we ought to obey. One of these reasons is the welfare of
the child. We all see this for young children ; since they
do not know what is good for them, there must be some
authority to protect them from themselves. For the
child's own good, it must not be suffered to do harm to
itself. It is hard to tell precisely when the child knows
4 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
what is good for him, so well that he does not need to
obey the parents' authority any longer ; but it has been
found in the experience of many generations that on the
whole, while the child is still growing, that is, to the age of
twenty-one years, it is best for all concerned to continue
the authority of the parents. The parent, if not always
wise, is likely to know much better than the child what is
good for him» There might be an exceptional child wiser
than his parents ; but we have to make rules in view of
the best good of all children.
Another reason for the family government is plainly for
the sake of justice to others. Suppose a boy hurts his
brother, or disturbs the household with noise, it would not
be right to allow him to continue to annoy others. In-
deed, every intelligent child has a good and reasonable
side ; when you appeal to him on his fair side, he would
not thank you for letting him do harm to the others. His
true self would vote that he ought to be stopped, if neces-
sary, by force. It might happen that a parent had ordered
unwisely, and an older child might think that he knew
better than the parent ; nevertheless, the harm that diso-
bedience does to the family is so great that the older child
ought, for the good of all, still to obey.
A third reason why we should obey parents is that they
have to bear the responsibility of the family, to provide a
home and the means of support, and to take the blame and
loss that might arise from an unruly household. They
must therefore have power to enforce the rules that seem
necessary in order to succeed with their charge. There
is another reason why we ought to honor and obey our
parents as long as we live — this is because they love us ;
but we do not like to be told that we ought to give them
this kind of regard, since at our best we give it freely.
THE FAMILY AND ITS GOVERNMENT. 5
Punishments. — Since there has to be authority in the
family both for the child's good and for the welfare of the
home, and since there must be obedience to prevent disor-
der and mischief, it follows that there must be punishment
or restraint in case of disobedience ; in fact, there is an
animal nature in us with its passions and greed which re-
quires to be curbed. If the child is intelligent and strong
enough, he will curb his own passions and appetites ; but
if he has not yet learned to do this, some one must help
him till he is strong enough to need no help. Punish-
ment, therefore, ought to be directed to give the child self-
control. He should be made uncomfortable when he does
injustice ; he should find that falsehood will prevent his
being trusted, that violence takes away his freedom, that
by disorderliness he will have his privileges cut off, that if
he behaves like a baby, he must continue to be treated
accordingly ; but punishment must always be for the good
of the child and for the good of the home, in which case
there will need to be very little of it.
The home a primary school for the state. — It will be
seen that the home is the first school in which wejearn to
be citizens. As the home and its teachings are, so will the
citizens of the state be later. Indeed, there are perhaps as
many kinds of government in the home as there are in
nations. There are homes in which the government is a
form of despotism, though possibly firm and benevolent.
There are homes like a little republic in which everything
is discussed in family council, and where nothing is done
without common consent ; and there are unfortunately
homes without thorough order, discipline, or authority,
but where each member does as he likes. If now we can
learn what the best kind of home is, we can see better how
we should live together in the state.
6 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
A true family government. — Let us ask what kind of
home we should like best to live in and to grow up in.
There would certainly have to be authority in it, or there
would be disorder and discomfort. The authority would
be such that every one could have the largest freedom of
action consistent with his own good and the comfort of
all. When the freedom of any one made annoyance to
others, or when freedom was abused, it would have to be
curtailed. As fast as children grew to deserve more free-
dom, it would be given them ; but on condition that they
proved worthy of trust. We should like also to be gradu-
ally taken into our parents' confidence and consulted upon
matters affecting ourselves or the home life ; and so fast
as our opinions came to be worth considering, they should
have weight accordingly. On certain subjects, as we grew
older, the decisions of the family should be taken by vote,
and a majority should determine what was best ; but we
should always trust our parents as wiser and more experi-
enced. They would have to bear the responsibility for the
conduct of the family ; they should therefore always hold
the " veto power " to overrule the opinions or wishes of
their children. Moreover, the father and mother, while
each having his or her own office in which each should
be supreme, should work together for the common happi-
ness of the home. There would be some subjects, as
for example in the care of the younger children, in
which the mother alone would be responsible, as the
father is responsible for the conduct of his business.
The older children, also, after a while might be assigned
certain duties, as for example the care of the grounds
or of rooms in the house, for which they too should
be responsible, subject only to the oversight of the
THE FAMILY AND ITS GOVERNMENT. 7
Thus we have established a little state, with different
departments in it, in which every one has a voice as soon
as he deserves and as long as he is trustworthy, in which
each has liberty as far as he uses it fairly, in which each
also has duties and tasks for the good of all. In this
government the parents are naturally the supreme author-
ity, though influenced in many ways by the opinions of
their children. This little state would change its char-
acter according to the members who made it up. If the
children were very intelligent and good, there would be
at the same time order and great liberty ; if the children,
however, were perverse and stupid, much authority would
have to be exercised and many rules would have to be
made, spoiling the liberty of each. If the mother were
wise, but the father were foolish and incapable, some of his
responsibility would have to be taken by the mother, and
there might be conflicts of authority between the heads of
the house. If, again, the father was tyrannical, he might
take more power than was good for the home. Yet it
would be a very bad government by the parents that was
not better than to let the children grow up to do as they
An exception. — There is a law even higher than the
command of a parent. It is the law of right. The parent
must not require of the child what is not just or true or
pure. In such a case it would not be doing real honor to
the parent to obey. Indeed, the parent at his best would
not wish the child to obey a command that violated right,
or that injured others. To obey a wrongful or wicked
command would therefore be not only an injury to one's
own conscience, but to the person who, perhaps in a hasty
mood, had given the command. To disobey, however, is
to risk punishment. Whoever, then, for the sake of his
8 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
conscience feels obliged to refuse a wrongful command
must be willing to take the consequences. It will be bet-
ter to be punished undeservedly than to do a wrong. For-
tunately, it is a very unnatural parent or guardian who
requires a child to do wrong, and the laws of the state can
be invoked to protect or even to take away children who
are thus abused by bad or intemperate parents.
THE SCHOOLROOM AND ITS GOVERNMENT.
THE SCHOOLROOM AND ITS GOVERNMENT.
We will suppose that one of the children from our good
home is now sent to school. Here is another little state,
with the teacher at the head of it. What is the teacher's
government for? It is, as in the home, to secure the good
of each and the greatest comfort of all. The school must
therefore have certain simple rules or laws. These rules
have been found necessary by many generations of schools.
There must be regularity in attendance, punctuality, order
and quiet, prompt obedience. Why? Because without all
these conditions, not only the teacher cannot do his work
well, but the scholars are robbed of their opportunity to
learn. If a number of the scholars were late, the whole
school would suffer. If every one could talk or whisper
as each pleased, lessons would be interrupted. Whoever
disobeys delays the school and robs the others' time. A
certain measure of strictness is needed in the school, pre-
cisely as every part of an engine needs to be screwed to
its place ; for strictness, if it is good tempered, prevents
friction and discomfort.
So when the teacher insists upon the right way of doing
anything, getting a lesson or pronouncing a word, it is
because the right way as a rule is the best and easiest.
The scholar who comes from a good home will see this ;
he will know that the government of the school is not for
the sake of the teacher, but that it is for the scholars.
10 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
He will have learned already to trust authority and to
obey without always understanding the reason, for he will
have found that there generally are reasons for every com-
Different kinds of school government. — If the chil-
dren in a school are young, there must be more restraint
and many rules. The teacher must simply command and
teach, and the children must obey and learn their lessons :
the school is a little monarchy. In an older school the
government can be different. The scholars can be trusted
as they become intelligent ; they can be given greater
liberties ; their opinion can occasionally be taken by -the
judicious teacher ; they can even by and by be taken into
the confidence of the teacher; some of them can be
appointed to assist in certain school offices. The scholars
are put upon their honor as fast as they learn to know
what honor is. The character of the government of the
school grows to be more like a republic, the more mature
the scholars become. There will be subjects on which the
master takes the vote of the school and lets the majority
decide. There will be occasions when the teacher can
hear open discussion of a question and let the scholars
express themselves. The more honorably liberty is used,
the more liberty can be given ; but the authority must
always rest with the teacher to forbid whatever would
injure the school, since the teacher is responsible for the
welfare of all.
Co-operation in the school government. — Even in a
primary school the teacher does not govern alone. The
pupils also help govern; they help by their consent and
obedience ; they may help very much by their good temper
towards each other and their teacher. In a school of
older and intelligent scholars the teacher hardly governs
THE SCHOOLROOM AND ITS GOVERNMENT. if
at all. There is little need of discipline or rules or pun-
ishments. This is because the scholars have learned to
govern themselves. They now see that the school is not
for the teacher, but for them. The teacher is not an
enemy to their happiness, but their friend. To help make
the school a success, to win and keep a good reputation
for it, to free the teacher from watching the conduct of
his school that he may use his strength the better to teach,
— these are ways to serve themselves. Thus the school
becomes like a university of grown men and women. The
good school is now fitting boys and girls who will also
govern themselves in the state, and who will therefore be
able to use the largest liberty as citizens.
12 THE PLAYGROUNDS: ITS LESSONS.
THE PLAYGROUND: ITS LESSONS.
Boys and girls learn some of the most important things
without knowing it, when they are at play. They learn
to act together, to respect each other's rights, and to obey
their own leaders and officers. We may call the play-
ground a little democracy, like a little nation where all
have equal rights. It may be a wild and lawless democ-
racy, however, like savage tribes who have not learned to
live together. There may be quarrels settled by fighting ;
there may be bullies who tease and oppress weaker chil-
dren; there may be sulky ones who withdraw from the
rest unless they can have their own way. If these things
are so, it is because the children are still young or unintel-
ligent. The playground is not well organized. We call
the state of things anarchy where the members of any
society pull apart instead of pulling together.
The organized playground. — As soon as children grow
older, they begin to see that quarrelling and sulking spoil
the sport. They learn that it is not only unfair for one to
insist upon having his own way in spite of the wish of the
others, but that the one who insists or else sulks by himself
has an uncomfortable time ; for no one likes to play with
him. They learn that fighting is a poor and clumsy way
to settle difficulties and that it is likely to leave ugly feel-
ings after it is over. They agree therefore, for example,
in a game of ball to choose a captain and to obey him.
THE PLAYGROUND. 13
They agree to go to play where the majority decide. In-
stead of stopping to quarrel over the questions of the
game, they choose some fair boy as umpire and agree to
abide by his decision. The playground now becomes a
little republic, with its own officers and its rules. The
boys find that they have a much better time as fast as they
learn to govern themselves and respect each other's rights.
Though they have to keep their rules, they have really
more freedom so than when before they interfered with
each other. They can give all their strength now to their
play when before they had to be on the watch to protect
themselves from bullies or tricksters. Even in contests of
strength like wrestling, they find that the advantage is
with him who keeps a cool head and controls his temper.
Thus they discover that rules and government even in
games make the game better sport. Good rules or laws,
instead of restricting liberty, protect it.
Moreover, the same playground, when organized and
fairly divided, will accommodate twice as many boys as
could play on it before they had agreed which part each
should have. Precisely as civilized men, who divide their
land, get many times the product from it and enjoy it more
freely than when wild and hostile tribes roamed over it.
Public opinion. — Besides the rules of the playground,
there is a force which is always over the boys and girls to
restrain or compel them. This is the common opinion of
their companions. Thus, telling tales is generally held to
be mean. This public opinion of a school or a playground
may be right and just, but of course it is sometimes hasty
and unfair. In this case it requires courage and indepen-
dence to resist or question it. Whoever acts or speaks
against the public opinion of playmates runs the risk of
unpopularity and sometimes of mischief.
14 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
It is very desirable, however, that there should be those
who are brave enough sometimes to take this risk and do
the unpopular thing; for often one or two independent
boys or girls will carry influence enough to prevent an
injustice or to hold back others from joining in a mean or
cowardly act. It will be found that a considerable number
were ready to agree with the independent fellow, but had
not the courage to say so. At the worst, if one has to
stand alone, opinion always comes around- at last to sup-
port what is fair and honorable. Neither is the bold stand
for justice, good order, or fair play likely to be really un-
popular, if the independent person is also brave, outspoken,
and good tempered.
Taking risks. — There are certain risks that have often
to be taken in games or sports. There is risk of accident
to the person, or of loss or injury to property or clothing,
of one's own, or others'. There are certain times and
places specially fit for the purposes of play, where risk is
least. There are other places so unsuitable that the risk
becomes excessive. In general, it is right to take the neces-
sary risks of any sport which come within the rules of that
sport. It is fair to take the risks of pain or loss which one
can afford to meet, such as hurting one's fingers or losing
one's ball, but it is foolish to take extra risks, like bathing
in a dangerous undertow. It is wrong to take such risks,
that if harm came, others would have to suffer or pay the
expense. It is unfair to play baseball in front of one's
neighbor's windows, which if broken one has not the
money to repair, and it is unfair needlessly to risk cloth-
ing, or anything else which another must mend or replace.
In short, the risks of play and sport begin to be hazardous
and soon come to be wrong, as soon as they involve
trouble, anxiety, loss or injury to others.
THE PLAYGROUND. 15
Playing to win. — It is natural to like to win in a
game. But there is one thing better than to win. It is
to play with skill and honor. Thus, it is better to play
well and to be defeated by a worthy and superior antago-
nist than to play ill and only to beat an inferior. It is
better to play honorably and be beaten than to win a game
by foul means and tricks ; for example, by maiming one's
opponents at football. To play a dishonorable game is a
confession of weakness.
Betting. — What harm is there in betting, for example,
upon the result of a game ? Or, in putting up marbles to
win or lose? The trouble is that it forms a habit in a
mischievous direction. Betting and gambling have done
so much harm among men that laws are made to forbid
them. Betting men and gamblers are apt therefore to be
a dangerous class of citizens.
16 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE CLUB OR DEBATING SOCIETY.
We will suppose that a set of boys or girls form a
Tennis Club or a Debating Society. It is evident that
there must be some order and certain simple rules.
The president or chairman. — In the first place there
must be a chief or head. It will not do for several to
speak at once, but some one whom all are agreed to re-
gard shall keep order and require the members of the
club to take their fair turn in speaking. The person who
presides at a meeting is often called the chairman ; and he
is said " to take the chair." When the club has been thor-
oughly formed, there will be a regular or permanent chair-
man, who may be called the president.
As soon as there is a chairman, whoever wishes to speak
or to propose a plan must rise and address the chairman,
who will call his name, unless another has the first claim
to be heard. While one speaks, the chairman will not
suffer others to interrupt, for no one else would wish to be
interrupted when his turn comes.
The chairman must be impartial and give equal chance
to every one, since he is the officer of the whole club. It
would be unfair, for example, for him to let his particular
friends have more than their share of the time, or, if there
were two parties, to favor one of them and allow his favor-
ites to interrupt the speakers of the other side. Indeed,
a partial or one-sided chairman would soon break up a
THE CLUB OB DEBATING SOCIETY. IT
club, since it would not be worth while to attend meetings
which were unfairly conducted. So important is it that
the chairman should not needlessly take sides with one
party or the other, that it is not customary for him while
acting as chairman to speak on any question, or to vote
unless there is a tie, that is, an equal division of the votes
between Yes and No. In that case the chairman may
throw the casting-vote and decide.
The constitution and rules. — It would not be well to
expect any chairman to keep order without some instruc-
tions. He needs a plan which all shall understand and
agree to. The club will therefore have a constitution and
rules. Whoever joins the club agrees to live by these
rules. But the rules must be framed so as to help the
club and not to thwart it, or else they will have to be fre-
The membership of the club. — Perhaps it will be
agreed that any one can join the club who will agree to its
rules ; but some clubs are exclusive, and only allow such
members to join as those already in the club permit. At
any rate, there must be some rule to determine who the
members of the club shall be, and there must be a list of
the members, otherwise the president might not J^now who
had a right to speak and to vote.
The quorum. — One of the rules of the club will pro-
vide how many members must be present before the meet-
ing can begin to do business. For it would not be right
for a very small number to decide a matter, like the spend-
ing of money, without waiting to see what the others
wished. At the same time, it would not do to keep a
considerable number waiting till all the tardy members
arrived. If then the club numbered thirty, it might ti\
half its number, or fifteen, as the quorum.
18 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Fair notice of meetings. — The rules will also provide
that full notice of every meeting be given to all the mem-
bers of the club. Thus it would not do for a few members
to call a meeting and make up a quorum by themselves,
or to call a meeting at a time when others either did not
know of it, or could not conveniently attend. Notice
should also be given of any important business to be dis-
cussed at a meeting, so that all who are interested can be
Changing the constitution. — Some of the rules for a
club are merely for convenience (By-Laws), and are in-
tended to be easily altered or set aside on occasion. But
the plan of the club, or the constitution, ought not lightly
to be set aside. If the club, for example, were started to
play tennis, and certain members proposed to alter it to a
boat club, there ought to be a thorough understanding of
the new plan and a general agreement before a change was
made, since many who had joined the club might be
disappointed at the change. It is generally agreed, there-
fore, that the constitution must not be altered at any one
meeting, or without the agreement of a large part, perhaps
two-thirds, of the members.
Free discussion. — If any question is before the club,
there ought to be ample time for every one to understand
it, and for those who wish, to say what they think on both
sides. Even when the larger number have made up their
minds, they should be willing to hear the other side
patiently, and be persuaded to change in case good reasons
can be given. This is what each would wish for himself
if he thought that his side had not had a fair hearing.
On the other hand, members must not be selfish and
obstinate. It would not be fair that any one should speak
twice on the same subject ; at least, as long as others had
THE CLUB OR DEBATING SOCIETY. 19
not yet had an opportunity. It would not be fair for any
one to speak for an unreasonable time, or in any case to
speak for the mere satisfaction of hearing himself. Neither
is it fair, unless for some very serious reason, to go on
objecting after both sides have been heard and the larger
number are ready to decide. Rules are therefore made, on
one hand, to give the few their full rights to object and
persuade the others, or to delay hasty action ; and, on the
other hand, to give the majority, or larger number, their
rights also, and to prevent a few discontented or sulky
members from blocking all the business. It needs to be
said that rules are not enough, unless there is also a spirit
of fair play. For good rules can be abused by mischievous
persons, and even forced to work injustice, if members of a
club are willing to wrong each other.
The method of business. — When a number of persons
meet together, there is apt to be a great waste of time in
talking. For nearly every one has something to say, often
about subjects which are of no importance. The talking
must therefore be confined to some subject which really
belongs to the club to discuss. The rule is, if a member
proposes anything or " makes a motion," that some one else
must " second " it, before the chairman can allow talking
about it. At least two persons ought to be interested
in the subject before the attention of the club is asked
One thing at a time. — When a subject has been pro-
posed, it must be attended to before anything else is
brought forward. If any one wishes to speak, he must
speak to the subject, and not to something else. When-
ever there has been talking enough about it, the members
can call for the " Question " ; and unless the larger num-
ber choose to hear more talking, the chairman must let it
20 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
be decided at once. The club can, however, defer it, or
" lay it upon the table," and then go on to other things.
Amendments. — It may happen that some one proposes
a good plan, but another sees a better one. He can offer
an " amendment " or improvement to the original motion,
and if some one " seconds " him, the chairman must see that
every one now talks about the amendment, till the club is
ready to decide whether to accept it or not. There can
be an amendment to an amendment, but business would
become complicated if amendments could go any further.
How to decide questions. — If there were a few mem-
bers of a club wiser than all the rest, it might do to ask
them to decide for the rest. But it is often hard to tell
who are wise, and the wisest sometimes make mistakes.
Besides, no one would ever become wise without practice
in thinking about questions and deciding them. Since,
therefore, all have to share in the expenses and in the
work, it is fairest that the larger number, the majority,
shall decide. The smaller number, the minority, must
yield, as they would wish to have the others do in case
they had the choice. In particular cases, however, such
as very knotty subjects, it would be fair for the club to
refer the question to a select number of its best or oldest
members (a committee), and either to abide by their deci-
sion, or at least to delay action till their committee should
report. In a very large club or society, in order to save
time, it might be necessary to refer almost every question
to a committee, to find out whether it was worth while
for the club to talk about it ; as when a great ship is ex-
ploring, it sends a boat into a new harbor to find whether
it is desirable for the ship to follow.
Voting. — The different modes of voting, or helping to
decide a question, will be spoken of in another chapter.
THE CLUB OR DEBATING SOCIETY. 21
It is enough to say here that it is evidently fair that each
member shall have one vote and only one. To cast two
votes on the same question is to steal a vote.
The reconsideration. — It is a pity for any one, after
making up his mind, to have to change. But it is vastly
better to change than to decide wrongly. If a member
therefore thinks that the club ought to alter its decision,
he can " move to reconsider " or bring up the question
again. It must be some one who had before been in the
majority, and has changed himself, who can fairly ask the
others to change.
The secretary or clerk. — It is evident that there
should be some one appointed to keep a copy of the con-
stitution and rules, to have a correct list of all the mem-
bers of the club, to give the proper notices to members,
and to keep a record of all that is done at each meeting.
For at the next meeting it will be necessary first to know
what was done and what was left over at the meeting
before. The secretary ought to be a careful and accurate
The treasurer. — It is likely that the club will have
need of money. Perhaps the members will have to pay
dues. In this case some one must be chosen to collect
and keep the money and to pay it out as the club directs.
It is not every one who means well who will make a good
treasurer. He must be very exact in keeping his accounts
or he will make bad mistakes; if he is heedless, he will
forget to put down the names of those who pay him ; and
he must be extremely careful not to mix the club money
with his own. Of course he must not use the club money
for himself or his friends, or borrow it for a day. All
that he has a right to do is to keep it safe for the club.
In short, he must not do anything with it that he would
22 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
not wish every member of the club to know. He must
also be ready to give account of his payments of the
money, and the club ought to see that his accounts are
regularly examined or audited. A faithful treasurer will
always prefer to show his accounts. The treasurer should
also have good manners, for otherwise he may offend those
of whom he has to collect their dues.
Other officers. — There will often be matters of busi-
ness, for which it would be inconvenient to call together
the whole club. For example, it might be desirable to
arrange for a picnic. A committee would therefore be
appointed to take charge of the arrangements. Besides
special committees, it saves trouble to have certain per-
manent committees, as, for example, to take care that the
expenses of the club are proper and within its means,
and to examine the treasurer's accounts. If the club had
grounds, or bats and balls, there might be a person or a
committee chosen to care for the good order and safety
of the property of the club. For that which it is the
special business of a few or of one person to care for is
apt to be much better done than that which no one is
Of course it is right that every one should be willing to
take his turn in doing the work of the club. On the
other hand, no one who cares for the success of the club
should wish to have any office which another member
could fill better. To scheme to get an office is almost as
bad as to vote for one's self.
It will be seen that there are some places which any
member would be useful in filling. It will be well to give
as many as possible something to do. But there are other
places, as the president's, where there is need of unusual
fairness, judgment, and skill. The club must have one of
THE CLUB OR DEBATING SOCIETY. 23
its best members for president, as a boat's crew must have
its most skilful man to steer.
It is well for every boy and girl to belong to some club,
to help manage it in an orderly manner, to obey its rules,
and to make it efficient and successful. For the club
demands of its members, courtesy to one another, respect
towards its officers, courage in speaking one's opinions,
fairness to the other side — the same qualities of good
citizenship which make the nation strong. It is because
civilized men have these qualities that they are able to
govern themselves. If in a legislature or congress many
members are without these qualities, there will be fric-
tion, prejudice, faction, hatred, bad words, and insult, pos-
sibly blows and violence, and free government becomes
24 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
PEKSONAL HABITS. — THE CONDITIONS OF GOOD
One forms no habits which do not affect others, so as to
increase happiness or else lessen it. If it were ever right
to do harm to one's self, it would still be unfair to form
habits which injured friends or neighbors. Moreover, the
habits which are injurious in the home or the schoolroom
are precisely those which hurt others in society, in busi-
ness, or in the state.
Cleanliness and order. — One of the marks of barbarous
men is that they do not know the use of water. They are
unacquainted with soap, and their huts are dirty ; their vil-
lages are untidy; they often therefore suffer terrible epi-
demics of disease ; whereas the higher type of men find
pleasure, comfort, and health in being clean. The more
wealth they possess, and the more tools and appliances
they have, the more necessary it is to keep things in place.
The closer they live together in great towns, the greater
the need is that every one shall co-operate to maintain
wholesome and orderly premises and streets : for one badly
kept house may poison a neighborhood ; an unsightly yard
may offend the eyes of hundreds of people ; scraps of soiled
paper thrown into the street and left there will give an ill
look to a town.
Polite or civil manners. — The word civil means first
what men do in cities, for civilization is the art of living
PERSONAL HABITS. 25
together with many others. Rude or slovenly mann<
speech, and habits, therefore, which might do less harm in
the woods where men rarely meet a stranger, become very
uncomfortable as soon as men meet in considerable num-
bers ; precisely as a rude, selfish child, who has no brothers
and sisters to be made unhappy, becomes disagreeable when
he carries his bad manners to school.
The fact is, that every one naturally likes to have re-
spect shown him : we would rather be met with a courteous
greeting than with a scowl ; we would wish our neighbors
not to push or crowd against us. We therefore agree, in
fairness to each other, to use the same respect to others
which we like to have shown us. This is the root of good
manners. We soon discover that life is far smoother and
more pleasant so. Certain "rules of politeness," as they
are called, are simply the ways which men have learned
for best showing each other the respect and consideration
which they like to have others give them ; that is, there is
generally some reason for the " polite rule." If we watch,
we may discover what it is ; as, for example, there is a rea-
son why in crowded streets carriages are required to go to
the right in passing each other.
If any rule or observance ever proved not to express
respect or friendliness, we should be justified in giving it
up ; but we must be sure that we are right in our opinion
about it, before we care to render ourselves singular ; since
it is unsocial to stand aloof from what our fellows do,
without a good reason. We observe the rules of good
manners, then, even when we cannot always quite see the
reason for the rules, because on the whole they decidedly
add to the convenience and happiness, — first, of the home
or our school ; and later, of the men and women who make
up society, — and also because it is foolish, unsocial, and
26 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
barbarous to disregard or despise what men and women
Examples. — It is a matter of very ancient custom for
youth to pay respect to age. This is partly because we
have a right to believe that older persons will have wisdom
and character which deserve respect ; it is partly because
we should wish ourselves, when we come to greater age, to
be treated with deference ; it is partly because in advanced
age there is often need of kindly help and consideration.
It is also good for the young themselves to show the marks
of respect to their elders. It is part of the discipline in
patience, gentleness, self-control, which goes to make manly
or womanly character.
In barbarous times there was scant courtesy shown to
woman. Then came the age of chivalry, when manners
became more refined. It was held to be the mark of a
gentleman to show special consideration and respect to
womanhood. This is partly out of regard to the mothers,
to whom true men recognize a debt of care and love which
they can never repay. Respect is also due to women on
the ground of their finer and more sensitive organization,
as one handles delicate china more carefully. This respect
to womanhood is not only for the advantage and happiness
of women; it is equally for the advancement of men,
who enjoy a high civilization in proportion as women are
treated with honor. Certain outward marks of respect,
like lifting the hat, are simply the tokens of such honor-
Money and its use. — Every one shows his character by
the way he uses money. In some households an allowance
is given to the children to spend or save or give away.
Almost every boy or girl has also means of earning money.
One may soon see whether a young person is truthful or
PERSONAL HABITS. 27
mean or generous, by his dealing with money. Does he
keep account of his expenditures ? Is he able to make his
accounts balance, or does he forget to put items down ? I-
he willing or not that his father or mother shall see what
he does with his money? Is he able to keep within his
means, or does he fall into a habit of borrowing? Is he
willing fairly to earn his money, or does he expect to be
paid more than the market price ? Is he sharp at a bar-
gain? All these things determine and help make his char-
acter. By and by, when he takes his place as a citizen, we
shall want to know how he uses his money, before we can
trust him to take office and Iodic out for the interests of
others. If boys and girls cheat, or cannot live on their
allowance, they will be likely to make bad or dangerous
Thoroughness. — The government of any country is
certain to be like its people. It cannot be much, if any,
better than they are. The scholars of to-day will soon be
the people. Every thorough person then will help make
the state strong, like a good stone in a wall ; as every
shiftless and slovenly person, like so much rubbish, weakens
society and the state. Thoroughness is equally a condition
of success in business. It is not, therefore, one's own
affair merely, whether he is punctual in engagements and
regular in his habits, or whether he gets his lessons.
These things affect the state.
Honor. — Suppose, as soon as a scholar knows that the
teacher's eye is not on him or that he will not be found
out, he is always on the watch to break the rules ; or sup-
pose that a boy would steal or cheat if he were not afraid
of punishment ; or suppose that an umpire favors his own
friends or the bo}^s of his own school, — we say in every
such case that the person has no sense of honor ; in other
28 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
words, we cannot depend upon such persons or trust them.
There are schools in which the scholars would scorn to
take any advantage of the absence of their teacher ; there
are boys whom you can trust to be as fair to the other
party in a bargain as to themselves, and who would be
equally fair if no one ever knew what they did. We call
such conduct honor. If there were not at least some such
men and women in every state and town, we could not
maintain the republic.
Truth. — The story is that the early Persians, besides
the use of the bow and the horse, trained their boys to
speak the truth, and so their sons conquered the East.
Lying is a mark of cowardice, as though the liar confessed
that his forefathers had been wont to cringe as serfs or
slaves, while truthfulness bespeaks noble and fearless
Self-control. — There was a fabled creature called the
Centaur. He was a man above and a beast below. Every
human being may be likened to the Centaur. We call a
man brutal whenever the beast is stronger than the man.
We only call him a man when he rides the beast. The
beast throws the man as often as he shows greed and
gluttony, or pushes and snatches for more than his share.
The man rides the beast when he says no to excess and
holds appetite within bounds. No parent or teacher or
master can do this for another, but each one has to learn
to do it for himself.
The pure life. — There are many habits of life and
speech which survive among men from barbarous or savage
times. We easily and almost by instinct know them as
low, base, and degrading. There are young persons, who
perhaps from some weak strain in their ancestry, are
specially liable to low habits and coarse speech. Others
PERSONAL HABITS. 29
from ignorant homes or through thoughtless companions
and bad books fall, if not into ruinous practices, menacing
bodily health, at least into damaging habits of thought and
conversation, spoiling the health of the mind ; for there are
things that soil and hurt the mind as pitch soils the hands,
or dry-rot infects a tree. Whoever intelligently cares for
happiness will therefore avoid the things that turn a man
into a beast. Those unfortunate persons who lack self-
control and moral vigor to outgrow the animal taint, be-
come the most worthless and dangerous part of human
society, who crowd the prisons and insane asylums in
The narcotics and stimulants. — Whoever wishes to
be strong, whoever wishes to keep health and vigor, who-
ever wishes a sound heart, a clear eye, and a steady hand,
whoever wishes to render the most useful and patriotic
service as a good citizen, will need to beware of the use
of the alcoholic drinks and all narcotic stimulants and
drugs. Especially in the period of growth, these things
tend invariably to lower the health of body and mind.
Tobacco has been found to be specially perilous to the life
of growing youth. Wine and beer are conceded never to
be useful for the young, and particularly in our bracing
American climate to involve physical as well as moral
peril. 1 The same, though in smaller measure, may be said
of the frequently excessive use of candies and condiments
which undermine the health, and threaten the vigor of the
coming generation of citizens.
1 This fact is now recognized by the laws of many of the States, which
forbid the sale of intoxicating drinks or tobacco to minors.
30 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE PRINCIPLES THAT BIND MEN TOGETHER.
We have now established a few principles which are at
the foundation of human society. There is no one, fit to
live with others, who is not able at once to understand
these principles and to see the reason for them. Our con-
sciences at once answer to them and tell us that they are
right ; at our best we mean to obey them. If we break
them, it is because we are both wrong and stupid ; we do
ourselves harm, as if we had kicked against spikes. Let
us briefly sum up these principles, which every human
being who wants to live happily with others ought to make
up his mind to heed.
Respect for others' rights. — We must treat another
as we would wish to be treated. We must not hurt or
defraud or annoy him. We must not injure his property.
Why ? Because like a brother, he is entitled to all the
respect that we claim from him ; because, also, every one is
happier, richer, and more friendly, when all respect each
other. This holds true even in our treatment of those
who seem to be bad. We treat them as friends and not
enemies, on the ground of our confidence that they are
not altogether bad, but that they also have a good side like
ourselves ; in other words, we treat others as we should
wish to be treated if ever we do wrong.
Authority and reverence. — We have also seen that
there must be some one in the home and school, and
THE PRINCIPLES THAT BIND MEN TOGETHER. 31
sometimes on the playground, who shall direct or com-
mand the others, and who shall therefore exercise author-
ity, for this is for the good of all. It is even for the good
of the disobedient, who ought not to be allowed to hurt
himself or others. Authority is meant to help him, as the
harness helps the horse to pull more easily. But if there
must be authority for the greater good of all, we owe it
respect and loyalty. This is reverence, especially when
we are loyal to truth, justice, or right.
Majority rights. — We have seen, too, that the only
fair way to decide a question often is to see what the
larger number want. This is another way of respecting
others by respecting their wishes or their opinions. This
is fairer to them and fairer to ourselves than to quarrel ;
that is, it is for the general good, always provided that
the majority do not compel us to do wrong.
Responsibility. — We also find that each one has a
share in whatever the others do. Each shares in the pleas-
ure or in the losses of all. Even the minority share in
what the majority decide. The minority must help pay
the expense or bear the loss of all, as they will enjoy suc-
cess if it comes. So if the majority do wrong, the minor-
ity have to suffer too, till they can persuade the majority
to do right. This is responsibility. It could not be other-
wise as long as we live together. It is fair, since we are
perfectly willing to share in the gain that others bring us,
that we should share together in the losses ; for it would
be evidently mean to take the credit that our club or our
party wins, and not to be willing to take the blame which
it incurs. We cannot shirk responsibility, then, except by
living altogether alone, like Robinson Crusoe. Indeed, we
should be responsible, if we deserted our fellows and left
them to act alone.
32 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The use of power. — We also see that power of any
sort — ability, strength, skill — is not for the individual
only. It is to share and to serve the others with, as the
muscle of a good oarsman or the quickness of the cox-
swain is for the whole crew. So the good scholar earns
honors for the school. So the capable and trained man will
make the town richer. The parent, teacher, or officer holds
power for the sake of making all happier, and not for
himself merely. This is fair in the family, because we
there each belong to the other. It is fair, for the same
reason, wherever we live together. It is fair in the great
world, because the noblest way of considering human life
is as a greater family of brothers. It is also fair, because,
•whenever we try this, it works better than any other way ;
besides, it -is what the strong man would wish others to do
with their power in case he became weak.
The public service. — It follows, therefore, that, besides
obedience to authority, or doing as we are bidden, we
owe something extra. We owe all that we can do for the
common good. We evidently owe this in a home. We
want there, besides doing what we must, to contribute
something additional, as the parents, besides giving a bare
living to their children, like to give them comforts and
pleasures. So wherever we live together, we wish to add
something to the good of the whole. This is fair and
right, because we in our turn have received and inherited
from those before us, who have left the world richer for
their gifts and public service.
The two classes : the strong and the weak. — We
see in every home and every school, and wherever men
live, that there are two classes. One class are those who
for some reason have to be helped and supported. The
little children especially are in this class. So are the sick
THE PRINCIPLES THAT BIND MEN TOGETHER. 33
in body or mind. The other class are those who do more
for others than others do for them. They therefore help
support or take care of the weak. It is necessary some-
times to belong to the first class and to have to be carried ;
but it is disgraceful, if one can help it, to stay in that class
and to compel others to carry us. It is like stealing, to be
willing to do less for others than they do for us. It is
therefore ignoble to be idle ; to receive and not to give ; to
inherit money or skill or the means of education, and then
not to leave others richer for what we have had. It is
shameful to receive kindness and care, and at least not to
give back thanks and cheerfulness ; for whoever is willing
on the whole and through life to take more than he earns,
takes out of what others earn.
Chivalry. — Since there are a multitude of persons in
the world who have to be helped, and many others who,
though able, are unwilling to do more than they are
obliged, there is need always of some who will do more
than their share. While others will do their work, if
praised and honored and paid, these will often serve with-
out pay or thanks ; as Washington would accept no com-
pensation for commanding the American army, and even
when his enemies critcised and abused him, cheerfully con-
tinued to serve. We call, such men as Washington- chiv-
alrous, like the knights in the old stories, who were
pledged to help and defend the poor and weak.
We are prepared now to apply these principles in the
large field of politics, business, and society.
34 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE DIFFERENT DUTIES THAT MEN OWE EACH OTHER.
As soon as we go outside the family or begin to read
history, we find certain duties and obligations which bind
people together as fellow-citizens or as employers and
laborers. Thus the state furnishes protection and other
services to her people ; and the question arises, What
ought the citizen to do in return ? It oftens happens that
there are present in a country an ignorant or a foreign
class ; and the question comes, how they should be treated.
There are bad and shiftless people ; and we want to know
what should be done with them. There are people who
work hard and have small wages, and others who do not
work at all, and yet have great incomes ; and the question
rises, whether this is right. These and many other hard
questions like them about right and wrong and duty arise
whenever men live together in cities or nations, or when
they buy and sell and employ labor. The same kind of
questions apply to the duties of one nation to another, and
to the important subjects of peace and war.
The divisions of our subject. — It is thus seen that
there are : First, duties which the citizens of a state owe
each other and the government, such as voting and obey-
ing the laws. They depend upon the application of the
principles of justice and friendliness, already perceived in
the family, the schoolroom, and the playground, to the
science of government. We call them political duties;
DUTIES THAT MEN OWE EACH OTHEK. 35
that is, citizens' duties. Secondly, there are duties which
grow out of the earning and the possession of money.
The wealth and comfort of a people ought in some way to
be fairly apportioned ; and no class must oppress or injure
the trade and business, or subtract from the prosperity, of
another class. We ma} r call this second kind of rights and
duties (from a Greek word which has been used to apply
to wealth) economic, or the rights and duties of the fair
management and distribution of money. They are the
application of the principles of justice to the science of
Thirdly, we call the duties of the wealthier, better edu-
cated, and virtuous people of a community towards the
ignorant, the vicious, and the poor, social duties, or the
duties which men living together in society owe with
regard to the evils of crime, pauperism, ignorance, and
caste. These duties are the application of justice and
humane principle to the questions of social science.
And, fourthly, we call the duties which one state owes
to another international. The science of international law
has its foundation in these duties. Obedience to these
duties would forbid most, if not all, wars.
Examples. — More than a hundred years ago our fore-
fathers rebelled against the British government. They be-
lieved that they were doing right ; but their Tory neighbors
conscientiously thought otherwise. This question of right
or wrong falls under the head of political, or citizens' duties.
We frequently read of great strikes, in which workmen
combine to compel railroads or manufacturing companies
to pay higher wages. The question whether a strike is
right, or what the companies ought to do, comes under the
head of economic rights and duties, or the duties as to the
management and distribution of money.
36 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
We have jails and prisons, in which criminals are con-
fined, and often obliged to work without wages. What
right have we to shut men up and punish them? The
question of the treatment of criminals belongs under the
head of social duties ; that is, the duties which grow out of
the fact that different kinds of people who have to be
treated differently live together in society.
The English have long held the government of India
and compelled the natives to obey them. The question,
What right have the English in India, falls under the head
of international rights and duties, or the duties of one
nation towards another ; for example, a stronger towards
a weaker. So, too, there has been much discussion about
the use of the great fisheries off the coast of Newfound-
land and our Alaskan seal fisheries. To whom do they
rightly belong ? And why ? In the following lessons we
shall study the duties which grow out of instances like
THE CITIZEN AND THE GOVERNMENT; OR, THE
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS.
THE CITIZEN AND THE GOVERNMENT; OR, THE
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS.
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT.
At a great seaport like Boston or New York one may-
see forts and ships of war which belong to the government,
and soldiers whom the government pays ; or one reads in
the newspapers of troops righting the Indians in the West.
The iron-plated ships, the forts, the cannon, and the troops
remind us that the government undertakes to defend its
citizens from enemies. ■&
The enemies of a country are not all in foreign lands, or
barbarous tribes on the frontier. There is also a class of
citizens who are enemies to the rest ; they injure and rob
property, and even take life ; or they want to be idle,
and live at others' expense ; or they are unjust and selfish,
and interfere with the rights of others. The government,
therefore, undertakes to protect its people from enemies
at home. The courts and the jails which the govern-
ment supports; the judges, constables, and police whom it
pays, — illustrate this second purpose of the government :
40 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
namely, to protect people from the wrong-doing of their
The goyernment does not stop with defending the life
and property of its people. It sends their letters over the
world; it builds roads and keeps them in order; it bears
the expense of schoolhouses and teachers ; it owns the
lighthouses ; it pays vast sums to construct levees and
breakwaters. Thus government undertakes many great
works which individuals would not or could not do so
well. A great army of surveyors, engineers, clerks, post-
men, and laborers are under the pay of the government,
and constitute the civil service.
What the government is. -7 When we in the United
States speak of the government, we generally mean the
President and the two houses of Congress at Washington.
But, as we shall presently see, there is also a government
or legislature in each state, as well as a government in
every city or town . It is a government, for example, when
at a town meeting the citizens decide how much money
they will spend for roads and schools, and appoint a com-
mittee (the selectmen) and other officers who shall act in
their name for the year. Congress is really a great com-
mittee of the whole people of the United States to make
suitable rules or laws for carrying out the purposes of gov-
ernment; each state legislature is a similar committee of
the people of that state. The government is thus the
method by which the people of a country manage to
defend themselves against their foes, to secure life and
property from injustice, and to carry on necessary public
Examples of the duties of the government. — A col-
ony of families who have established a new town in one of
the territories are threatened by a tribe of Indians. It is
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT. 41
the duty of the government to send an army, if necessary,
to protect these colonists.
A man wants to build a high wooden house in a crowded
city, or to keep a store of gunpowder. It is the duty of
the government to forbid him from doing, even on his own
premises, what would endanger the safety of his neighbors.
There are people who have violent prejudices against
their colored fellow-citizens or those of foreign birth, as
the Poles and Italians, whom they would perhaps like to
prevent from getting work or from voting. It is the duty
of the government, through its laws, to give exactly the
same protection to all classes of its citizens.
It sometimes happens that a city or a corporation pol-
lutes the water of a stream, and so injures the health of
the residents of another town. It is the duty of the gov-
ernment, through the courts, to investigate such ques-
tions, and to order suitable redress.
In every closely built city it is the duty of its govern-
ment to provide a fire department, and to make proper
regulations for the health of the people, otherwise the
ignorance or carelessness of a few would threaten the safety
One of the dangers which threaten a government is
ignorance. It is, therefore, a duty to provide at least a
certain amount of instruction, and to require the attend-
ance of children at school.
Two opposite ideas about government. — If all the
citizens of a State were good and also wise, and if the
people of other countries were well disposed, it is evident
that there would be no need of government for the pro-
tection of its citizens from violence, or for supporting
police, courts, or prisons. It might also be thought that
the mails could be carried, roads could be built, lighthou-- is
42 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
could be cared for, water pipes and sewers could be laid,
and schools could be maintained by voluntary associations
like express, railroad, water, and gas companies. There is
so much that is well done by companies and also by indi-
viduals, that some are inclined to think that everything
might be done without the intervention of government.
If men were all fair and wise, a community might per-
haps get on without any government, as a school in which
every one was eager to learn might have no rules.
On the other hand, there are those who would like to
have government assume the care and direction of nearly
everything, — of the railroads and transportation, of the
mines and manufactures, of the distribution of food and
supplies; in fact, of all industry and business. The gov-
ernment should apportion to every one the work for which
he was fitted, and should assign to every one his mainte-
nance ; as in a family the parents provide whatever each
This plan also might work, provided all men were fair
minded, and if the wisest men were sure to be made the
officers of the government.
The fact that men can hold two ideas as to the purpose
of government, so far apart from each other, seems to show
that the best government is that which unites both ideas ;
like a well-managed playground where, in order to secure
the greatest liberty for every one to enjoy himself, all agree
to sacrifice a little of their liberty, to keep rules and
bounds, and to undertake some things, such as the care
of the ground, together.
The trouble with the plans of those who would either
get rid of government altogether, or, on the other hand,
expect the government to do everything for them, is that
the great body of men are not wise or perfectly fair. As
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT. 43
in a school, therefore, not only the general happiness, but
also kindness to the ignorant and vicious, demands the
enforcement of order and obedience to laws. But the
government is only the whole people acting together, like
a group of boys on the playground. It can never then
be trusted to be more wise or just than the people who
make it. If the citizens are lazy, selfish, or grasping, the
government which has such persons behind it can never
be just or satisfactory.
Individual liberty. — As it is bad for children to de-
pend upon older persons to help them get their lessons or
do their tasks, so it is bad for a people to rely upon the
government for what they can do for themselves. We
know this, because it has often been tried, as when the
imperial government of Rome provided the people with
corn and made them beggars in consequence. On the
other hand, when men are at liberty to try many experi-
ments in their customs, in their business, and in their
schools, and to make improvements if possible ; when they
are free to invent and apply new. methods and machinery,
and to make their own discoveries in science ; when they
are welcome to find fault if the government becomes negli-
gent, — all this stimulates the curiosity, the inventiveness,
the energy, and the quick-wittedness of the people. Even
when individuals make mistakes and suffer losses, it is
better than the gigantic mistakes and losses which a gov-
ernment that undertakes to do everything is liable to
make. For the government, like an unwieldy vessel, has
mostly to follow one fixed course ; but the individual
citizens, being many, if once they are free to try experi-
ments, find shorter and easier ways.
As a matter of fact, all the progress that we know of in
the world has come about through the thought and action
44 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
of independent persons, like Galileo, John Hampden, and
Samuel Adams, whom those in charge of government have
frequently thwarted and opposed. The American way,
therefore, is to allow as much liberty as possible to every
citizen to think and to act for himself, because in this way
the utmost energy is developed for the good of the whole
Two natural parties. — As we shall afterwards see, men
often divide into parties on various subjects. But there
are two great natural divisions that run among men as
to the purpose of government. One party always seek
to be as free of government as possible. They would
prefer the utmost individual liberty consistent with the
good of society. They would have little legislating or law-
making ; they would leave most kinds of work to individ-
ual enterprise. They think that energy and virtue are
promoted by throwing all possible responsibility upon the
individual citizen, and that if he sometimes abuses his
freedom, he will thus learn faster the conduct of a true
and intelligent man ; as when a teacher trusts his scholars
and leaves as many questions as possible for them to
decide or to study out for themselves.
The other party would like to throw the responsibility
from the individual upon the government, which shall
accordingly regulate the details of conduct ; as in a school,
where every one's time was provided for by rule and each
was told precisely what to do next. Thus it is hoped, at
some increased sacrifice of each citizen's freedom, that
certain abuses may be corrected and protection secured in
favor of the poor, the weak, and the ignorant.
For example, one party would prohibit all use of intoxi-
cating drinks throughout the country ; but the other party
maintains that it is better on the whole for men to learn to
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT. 45
establish their own habits, than to have even good habits
prescribed by the government. They think that it is bet-
ter, likewise, to allow each locality to make its special rules
than to establish rules for all by a central government.
So with the taxes or public expenses. One party might
be willing to fix the taxes for the whole country by a great
system with its central office at Washington. The other
party would prefer, as far as possible, to permit each town
or State to levy its taxes in its own way. The whole
country thus gets the benefit of any wise experiments that
may be tried in any part of it, but the whole does not
suffer if a new plan works ill.
We need now to be told something of the forms and
machinery of government, or how it works.
46 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
VARIOUS FORMS OF GOVERNMENT.
Despotism. — The study of geography has made us
acquainted with various forms of government besides our
own. Thus in Turkey the emperor, called the Sultan, has
almost absolute power. He can appoint officers and make
laws for his people, and if he pleases, can make war or
enter into treaties with foreign nations. He can also hand
down his throne to his son as successor. This is an abso-
lute monarchy or despotism. Similar authority is often
possessed by the chiefs of savage tribes. Nevertheless,
such a ruler cannot generally do exactly as he pleases.
There are old customs which he has to observe. The
power is only his as his people allow it to him. If he
utterly displeased them, or broke their ancient customs,
or quite failed to defend them from their enemies, the
people might take away his power ; or, as often happens,
some stronger or wiser man might seize his throne. It has
sometimes also happened that such a king, like Charle-
magne, has been just and patriotic, so that his people have
enjoyed good government. But however good and enlight-
ened the absolute monarch may be, his people, not having
learned to act for themselves, but expecting the king to
do everything for them, are usually helpless in case a weak
or bad king succeeds to the throne. Neither have they
learned to act together in times of public danger.
It is as though a father, instead of teaching his children
VARIOUS FORMS OF GOVERNMENT. 47
to serve themselves, had everything done for them,, so
that they at last became dependent upon others. So
the kindest despotism hurts the people under it by its
failure to train them to intelligent, independent, and watch-
ful regard for the interests of their country.
The aristocratic government. — In many countries the
rich or the heads of certain great families have con-
trived to get the power into their hands and to keep it,
without consulting the rest of the people. Thus in nearly
all the great countries of Europe for centuries the people
were never asked to choose who should govern them or
what laws they should live under. Sometimes, as in
Venice, a ring of rich merchants managed the affairs of
the city. More often, when a king ruled, the nobles who
surrounded him got the great offices for themselves, so as
to plunder the poor, or to have laws, such as game and
land laws, made for their own advantage.
Ancient republics. — Even when the government was
called a republic, as in ancient Athens, citizenship did not
mean the same that it means with us ; for only a limited
number of the people could vote or hold office, and the
great majority were slaves. So, too, foreigners coming to
live in such a republic could hardly obtain the rights
of citizens, for it was imagined that the interests of one
class of men, the citizens, were hostile to the interests of
slaves or foreigners. The latter were consequently treated
with suspicion and even injustice.
Popular government. — In all civilized countries it is
now held to be unjust for one class of men, merely because
they are rich, to have authority, place, or office, or the
exclusive power to make laws for others to obey. This
change from the supremacy of one, or of a few, or of a
class, to the acknowledgment of the equal rights of all,
48- THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
has come from the idea that men of every race or language
are brothers, and that hence their interests are common.
It is seen that whatever hurts or oppresses or degrades one
class of a nation hurts the whole nation, precisely as that
which hurts one part of the human body threatens the
health of the whole. It has, therefore, become the custom
to make the government rest upon the will of the whole
body of citizens, who have to bear the burdens and expenses
of the state ; that is, instead of treating a part as citizens
and the rest of the people as " outsiders," the rights of
citizens, under certain rules and with some exceptions, 1
are conferred upon all.
In most European countries., even though a king or
emperor is at the head of the state, he is now obliged to
consult his parliament, that is, the delegates of the people.
Neither could he long remain in power unless the majority
of the nation choose to keep him. The rules or customs
that restrain a king, the nobles, or the rich from oppress-
ing a people are called the constitution. Thus while Eng-
land is a monarchy, it is now a constitutional monarchy.
The prime minister, like Mr. Gladstone or Lord Salisbury,
who represents the majority in Parliament, enjoys more
real power in directing the government than the king or
queen ; even the House of Lords or nobles can do nothing
against the will of the chosen representatives, who consti-
tute the House of Commons.
The modern republic. — A republic may be defined, as
President Lincoln was fond of saying, as "a government
of the people, by the people, and for the people." In this
sense all the old world governments tend to become repub-
lican, but all republics are not alike. England, for exam-
1 For example, a citizen who has become a criminal evidently forfeits his
claim to be trusted with a citizen's duties.
VA1U0US FOBMfi OF GOVERNMENT. 49
pie, is substantially a republic, though without the name.
Mexico, on the contrary, while called a republic and having
a president at its head, is generally governed by a ring of
rich men, who do not really consult the people, who on
their part are unfortunately too ignorant to concern them-
selves about their government. Thus the names and the
forms of a republic do not secure a true government of
the people unless they have the will and intelligence to
make their forms real.
The French republic. — France likewise is a republic,
but not like our own ; for during the period that France
was an absolute monarchy it became the custom for the
central government to administer the affairs and appoint
the officers throughout the country, without immediately
consulting the people themselves or expecting them to do
anything but obey and pay the taxes ; and so to this day,
though the French people may elect the assembly who
make their laws, the central government still undertakes
much work which in America is left to the States and
towns, or to the people themselves. Thus the French
government pays the expenses of religion as well as for
the police of the whole country. So, too, the French
government appoints many officers, as the mayors of the
cities, whom in the United States we choose directly our-
A centralized government. — When the general gov-
ernment thus draws to itself under one great system the
administration of all parts of the country, it is said to be
centralized. If questions of local management or local
expense, such as the salaries of the mayors, have to be
referred for decision to some office or bureau at the capitol,
it is called a bureaucracy ; that is, a management through
officials, instead of management through the people of the
50 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
city or district. So far as the people of any town expect
the central government to decide their questions for them,
or to pay the expense of their public works out of the
central treasury, they are in danger of losing their sense
of responsibility. They may even permit lavish waste or
fraud if they do not have to pay for it directly ; whereas
if the central government is efficient, the people forget
that it needs to be watched and guarded lest it fall into
negligence or corruption.
The American government, as distinguished from most
governments abroad, is one which is designed to rest more
directly upon the people themselves. We shall see that
the great central administration only undertakes certain
duties which concern the whole nation, but other public
concerns are left to the people of each locality. The gov-
ernment most nearly like our own abroad is that of the
The basis of the American system. — The old idea
was that the people could not be trusted to know what
was good for them. The American idea of government
rests upon trust in the people. While many are ignorant,
and many who ought to know better are selfish, there
must be danger in any case ; but Americans hold that it is
safer to intrust men with power than to treat them with
suspicion. Although they may often be wrong and may
make mistakes, we believe that they are likely, on the
whole and in the long run, to learn to act wisely and with
justice. This is because there is a principle of fairness in
almost every man, which, if appealed to, makes him wish
to do right. .
LOCAL GOVERNMENT. 51
LOCAL GOVERNMENT, OR, GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE
We can imagine that the people in each village or town
might look to the great general government to do every-
thing for them, — to appoint police or constables, to build
their roads, to pay for their schools, and finally to collect
money for the expenses. In such a case there would be
no local government, neither would the people have to meet
to discuss their affairs. By local government we mean the
arrangement which the people of any place make for their
own order, peace, and convenience. There is an old prov-
erb, "If you wish anything done well, see to it yourself."
This proverb contains the reason for local government.
The town meeting. — It is possible for the people of a
small town or community to meet quite frequently and to
consult as to what needs to be done for the common good ;
as, for example, to lay out a new road, to build a bridge, or
to erect a schoolhouse, as well as to appoint proper officers,
selectmen, constables, the school committee, and others.
By common agreement and ancient usage, whatever rea-
sonable action a majority of all present at a regular town
meeting vote to take, all must acquiesce in. But what if
the majority sometimes vote unwisely? It is nevertheless
fairer for all, as a rule, to acquiesce for the time, than it
would be to quarrel and resist like so many barbarians.
There will soon be opportunity at another town meeting
52 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
for the minority to persuade their fellow-citizens. Mean-
while, if the minority quarrelled and resisted, or refused
to pay their share of the taxes, how could they expect the
others to acquiesce in case they at last obtained the major-
ity ? " To do as you would wish that others should do to
you," therefore, requires that the minority shall not resist
the honest vote of the majority.
The origin of the town. — The town meeting is the
simplest kind of government. Probably it is the survival
of one of the most ancient forms, when all the free-
men of a clan or a village of our Saxon or Aryan ancestors
gathered to choose who should lead them to battle, or to
say Yes or No to the proposal to make a foray against
another tribe. The idea of the town was brought from
old England by the early settlers who sought in the wil-
derness of New England the freedom to govern them-
selves. At first the towns were scattered, often of large
extent, and of irregular area. As the population grew,
old towns were subdivided and new towns were made to
suit the convenience of their inhabitants. As a rule the
town area is now five or six miles square. The meeting-
place, or town hall, is near the centre of the population, or
often in the largest village of the township. The name
and idea of the town, being found convenient, spread from
New England to most of the States where people from
New England have settled.
The town meeting is sometimes called a pure democracy,
that is, government by the people themselves, because all
have an opportunity to express their opinion, and to vote
upon all matters of public concern. The selectmen and
other officers can only do as the people direct and carry out
the people's votes. Whatever officer disobeys the will of the
people is liable to be called to account immediately. The
LOCAL GOVERNMENT. 53
officers are also elected for short terms, and are only re-
elected upon giving satisfaction and commanding respect.
The county. — A group of towns make a county. The
name and the idea come from old England, and from the
time when some great lord, an earl or count, had authority
over a large district, often called a shire. For the purpose
of justice, for maintaining a court and a jail and providing
for public records, for keeping wills and deeds of land, as
well as for the great highways, it is still convenient to
group towns into counties. In some parts of the country,
however, especially in the South, where the population is
much scattered, the county, and not the town, is the unit
The principal officers of a New England county are the
Sheriff, who must preserve the public order and bring
wrong-doers to justice, and who may, in case of serious
disturbance like a riot, call upon the governor of the
State to send troops to help him ; the Commissioners,
who look after the property of the county, its buildings,
and its highways ; the Treasurer ; the Register of Deeds,
whose books show to whom all the lands in the county
belong, and whenever any land changes hands ; and the
Clerk, who keeps the records of the courts. These officers
are chosen directly by the people. The towns contribute
their share to the county expenses, according to the
amount of property in each town. The public buildings
for the use of the county are in the shire town.
In the Southern and some of the Western States, where
there is no real town government, the county officers, viz.,
the Board of Commissioners or Supervisors, have charge of
the business which in towns is managed by the selectmen.
Since the different States use several different systems
of local government, it is possible to compare them and to
54 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
find out whether the township or the county plan works
best. It will be seen that local government cannot be as
direct in the county as in the town. For on account of
the greater size of the county, citizens cannot conveniently
meet to discuss and to do the county business. Neither
can they know each other as well as the men who live in a
town. Since, then, they must leave more of 'their business
to their officers, they cannot feel as much responsibility
for good government as under the township plan. It is
easier, too, for a few persons to get and keep the power
and the offices, while the larger number stay at home and
lose their interest. When men stop discussing their affairs
and leave them to others, they soon become very unskilful.
It appears, then, that the township plan is likely to be the fav-
orite one. It is coming into use in many of the new States.
The school district. — The towns or the counties are
subdivided into school districts, where people meet to con-
sult and make necessary arrangements for the care of the
schools. The district meeting is a sort of training-school
in politics. For when neighbors meet to consult for the
interests of their district, they are apt to consult also about
town affairs and to observe what needs to be done.
Local patriotism. — We may suppose that the people
of a town were resolved to make their town excel, to main-
tain the best roads and schools, to beautify their streets
with trees, to prevent disorder, to secure efficient and hon-
est service, and therefore to trust only their best men with
office. This would be local patriotism. The more such
towns there were, the better it would be for the State
and the nation. We may suppose that the children were
brought up like the children of the early Athenians, to be
loyal to their native town and to help make it excel.
They would be sure to be good citizens wherever they
might afterwards live.
THE STATES, AND LEGISLATIVE GOVERNMENT.
THE STATES, AND LEGISLATIVE GOVERNMENT.
States. — In the old days families joined into clans, and
clans made up tribes, and finally tribes of kindred people
were united for common defence into kingdoms and na-
tions. So, somewhat after the old model, we have town-
ships forming counties, and counties making States.
The sovereignty of the State. — Each State in some
respects is like a separate nation. Thus, it can make laws
for its people as though it were quite independent. The
law r s may differ from the laws of the adjoining State. It
can make new towns and counties, and change the old
towns. It can lay down the rules for local government, or
alter them. The towns and cities get all their authority
from the State. The State can also have a military force,
its militia, for preserving order. And it provides courts
and police for enforcing its laws.
Eminent domain. — The State has also the same right
over the land as once belonged to a whole tribe or to a king.
It can, therefore, take the land of any citizen in case it is
needed for a public purpose, as for a railroad. This impor-
tant right is called eminent domain. It would not be fair,
however, for the State to exercise this right to take away
property without compensation.
Why we have States. — A foreigner might wonder why
we need to have States with many costly governments and
different laws. Why would not one great State be enough,
56 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
like France ? The foreigner would also say that the map
of our States looks like a checker-board, as if they had
been made to order ; unlike the states of the Old World,
with their irregular boundaries, which grew through many
centuries of change.
The answer is partly that the States are for the sake of
convenience, in order not to load the great general govern-
ment with too many duties. It would be cumbersome
whenever the people in Chicago wanted to try the experi-
ment of a new law to manage their city, to have to go to
Washington to get permission, as it is now very vexa-
tious for the British Parliament to be obliged to govern
The old States. — The chief reason, however, why we
have States, is because our forefathers settled this country
in separate colonies and with different customs.
At the time when our forefathers asserted their inde-
pendence from Great Britain, the thirteen separate colonies
had each a government of its own, — a governor appointed
by the king and an assembly or legislature chosen by the
people of the colony. The people of a colony were not
quite free to do as they pleased ; for the royal governor
might veto or forbid what the legislature voted. The gov-
ernments of the colonies were also based upon charters or
constitutions made for them in England, and which re-
quired them to act in obedience to the laws and govern-
ment of Great Britain. Thus the British Parliament could
make laws which might seriously affect the interests of
the colonies, while the colonies had no delegates or repre-
sentatives in Parliament to defend their rights ; somewhat
as the Dominion of Canada has no members of the Parlia-
ment in London. At the War of Independence, the colo-
nies took the sovereignty, which had before been vested
THE STATES, AND LEGISLATIVE GOVERNMENT. 57
in the crown, into their own hands and became indepen-
dent States ; henceforth they each chose their governors
themselves, who thus represented the will of the people.
Instead of the royal charter, they made their own constitu-
tions. There was, indeed, a period before 1789 when any
State, as Massachusetts or South Carolina, had the right to
establish a custom house, and to exclude goods from other
States and hinder trade, and when it would have been
possible for the different States to become quite separate
from each other.
New States. — After the Federal Union was estab-
lished, as the country filled up with people, new States
were settled in what had before been the wilderness.
Florida was bought of Spain. The vast region known as
the Louisiana Purchase, comprising the Mississippi Valley
and the Great Northwest, was bought of Napoleon, and
later Texas, and a great portion of what had belonged to
Mexico, including California, were added, by conquest and
treaty, to the national domain. From time to time the
new lands were made into divisions called Territories, with
a temporary government, somewhat like the old colonies ;
and again, when the Territories grew populous, they became
States, after the model of the original thirteen States.
Representative government. — It would of course be
impossible for all the people of a State to come together,
as in a town meeting, to consult or to make laws. They
therefore choose their representatives at regular intervals,
— in some States every year, in others once in two years, —
to meet and discuss the business of the State. This is the
legislature. Since the members have to give up consider-
able time and go to certain expense, it is thought fair
to make them reasonable compensation. Thus the State
claims the right to their faithful and disinterested service.
58 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
This makes it also possible for poor men as well as the rich
to serve the State.
The beginning of legislatures. — It seems only just
that the persons in charge of government should have
the advice and consent of the people who must pay the
expenses. But reasonable as this appears, it was not
acknowledged in the fierce old times when " might made
right." The famous story of King John and Magna Charta
shows how hard it was for free men to win their rights.
Representative government and its methods have been
slowly worked out by the bloody and glorious experiments
of our fathers in old England through many centuries.
For when the kings needed money and soldiers, they were
accustomed to gather the leading men from all parts of the
kingdom, including the great merchants of London and
other towns. This was the beginning of Parliament.
How Parliament got power away from the king. —
Although the king or his minister could propose any plans,
such as a campaign against France, it was held necessary,
after Magna Charta was granted, to have the consent of a
majority of the Parliament, in order to provide the necessary
means ; and since the king often wanted money, he was
forced as often to summon his Parliament and ask its con-
sent to levy the taxes. So it came to pass that bargains
were made with the king, that if he would give Parliament
what they wanted, if he would reform certain abuses or
dismiss bad ministers, they in turn would grant his re-
quests for money. Thus, while once the king used to
propose and command, and the Parliament at most could
only refuse to pay money to help him, now at last it has
come to be the Parliament that proposes plans or makes
laws, which the king or queen can hardly venture to veto
or forbid. And whereas once the ministers and great offi-
THE STATES, AND LEGISLATIVE GOVERNMENT. 59
cerswere often made by the king's appointment, now they
are practically the choice of the majority of Parliament.
The Parliament, in the name of the people, has assumed
not only the power to make laws, but also to carry out the
American parliaments. — All our legislatures, includ-
ing the National Congress, follow the model of Parliament.
In old times, however, the rich and powerful came to Par-
liament, and the poor were not represented ; but our legis-
latures are chosen by all the people. The legislature is
thus a great town meeting made up, indeed, not of all the
people, but of delegates or messengers whom their fellow-
citizens have chosen to consult and to vote for them, and
whom they pay for their services. Whatever, therefore,
the legislature decides to do, all the people must acquiesce
in ; or, if they do not like the action of their represen-
tatives, they must wait till the next election, and then
choose different men, who may act more wisely.
The legislature and the people. — It is also possible,
in some cases, if^ the legislature do not wish to take the
responsibility of any action, to refer it back to the people,
who shall vote Yes or No. Thus laws to forbid the sale of
intoxicating liquors are sometimes referred to the people
cither of the whole State, or, by local option, to the people
of each city or town. As w r e have seen, each State bus
what is called a constitution, that is, a fixed body of rules
for its government. This constitution binds and limits
the legislature. Sometimes, especially in the new States,
the constitution is very long, almost like a law-book, as
though the people did not dare to trust their legislature to
take important action without consulting them. For no
change can be made in the constitution without a direct
vote of all the people of the State, who, meeting in their
60 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
accustomed voting-places, must say Yes or No to the pro-
posed change. Sometimes, in order to make hasty changes
difficult, the law requires as many as two-thirds of the
votes before the change can be allowed.
Thus, although the legislature has many powers such as
kings once wielded, yet it is always held close to the will
of the people. Even if it passes acts which the people
would disapprove, it is liable to have such acts soon
reversed by a new legislature, or by a direct appeal to the
people to change the constitution.
The English way. — So in England, if the Ministry, that
is, the great officers who conduct the government, happen
to propose measures which the' Parliament disapprove,
they must either give place to new ministers, or else, if
they wish to insist on their own way, they can dissolve
Parliament, which otherwise might hold through a term of
seven years. They must then order a new election, to
determine whether the people will vote for members favor-
able to their plans ; but if the new Parliament still disap-
proves of their conduct, they must resign. In Switzerland,
also, the laws require many subjects to be referred to the
people directly, instead of trusting the legislature.
The two houses of the legislature. — As long as
mankind was divided into two classes of people, Lords
and Commons, the Parliament was divided also into an
upper house where the nobles sat, and a lower house
where were the representatives of all the rich people who
were not noble ; but though we have no longer two classes
or castes of people in America, we still retain in our leg-
islatures this old division of an upper house, commonly
called the Senate, and a lower and larger House of Repre-
sentatives. We do this partly from the force of ancient
custom, but also because many think that subjects receive
THE STATES, AND LEGISLATIVE GOVERNMENT. bT
more careful consideration from the necessity of being
discussed and voted upon by two different bodies, before
any law can be finally passed. The Senate, or upper
house, is generally much smaller than the other body.
Thus there may be one or even more representatives from
a town, but often several towns may be required to form
a district to choose a senator. The legislature of Ma
chusetts, for example, has forty members in the Senate
and two hundred and forty in the House of Representa-
The duties of legislators. — There are two different
ideas of the duty of members of a legislature. Some
think that they are strictly bound to do whatever the
majority of their constituents wish. According to this
view, a member of the legislature ought to vote against
his own judgment, if he believed that the people who
elected him so desired. If he cannot conscientiously do
this, he ought to resign and let some one be chosen who
would vote as the people wish.
Others hold that a legislator ought to be trusted to act
freely, according to his best judgment of the interests of
the people. He may thus sometimes be obliged to vote
against his party or to take the unpopular side. It is evi-
dent that it would be of little use to elect wise and con-
scientious legislators unless the people are willing to trust
State rights and State jealousy. — In the earlier
days of the Republic the people of one State were often
a f raid and jealous of the people of other States, somewhat
as in the ancient history of Greece the people of Sparta
were jealous of Athens. It was feared that the strong and
populous States might contrive to make laws to hurt the
weaker States. The smaller States, as Delaware and
62 THE AMERICAN CITIZEK.
Rhode Island, would not come into the Union at all with-
out being given the same number of senators in Congress
as New York and Pennsylvania. The Southern States
especially, where slaves were still held, were anxious not
to be meddled with. When men become suspicious of
each other, they are apt to think more of their rights than
their duties. So it was with the States. Many persons
thought that a citizen owed his duty to his State first and
the Union afterwards ; they cared more for the state flag
than the national flag.
Our people, however, have learned that whatever is
good for one State is good for the others. If the people
of Alabama are poor, it is so much the worse for New
York. As in a football team, the strength and skill of
each member are necessary to win the game.
State patriotism. — If any State has had a memorable
history, as Virginia or Massachusetts, if it has produced
great men, if it has established good laws, and secured the
freedom and happiness of the people, they naturally take a
generous pride in their State.
By as much as it has made them happy, they are bound
to do their loyal part to maintain its good laws and its
prosperity. This is state patriotism, and like local patri-
otism, the more citizens possess it, the better for the whole
country. Thus one can be a good patriot to his own State,
and be glad also to see other States flourish.
THE PEOPLE ACTING IN CONGEE 63
THE PEOPLE ACTING IN CONGRESS.
The American idea. — The American idea of govern-
ment is that the people shall hold the reins of power, so
far as possible, in their own hands ; that they themselves
shall be responsible for their own error if ever they choose
unworthy or incapable public servants; and that hence
they must not turn over to others to do or to determine
what they can do themselves. Thus the people of a town
or city must not look to the legislature to build their
roads or choose their school committee or provide water
and light ; but the people of each town must provide for
their own local needs, or suffer the consequences of their
neglect. So, too, each State, through its legislature, must
consult and act in matters that touch the interests of all
parts of the State, without expecting the nation to interfere
to save the people of the State from the results of their
mistakes or their negligence. The people of the State
must be responsible for their own school system and for
good order within their borders, and therefore for proper
laws ; but they should not without extraordinary reasons
look to the government at Washington to vote money for
their education or to provide national troops to enforce
the laws of the State. The American plan therefore is,
that we leave as much as we can to the honor and patri-
otism of the people of each town or State.
General government. — There are, however, as we have
seen, many subjects which rest upon all the people of a
64 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
State together. No town or city must be suffered to do
anything to the detriment of the health or the welfare of
the people of other towns. Every town, therefore, must
obey the laws of the State. Even if the laws do not seem
wise for every town, its people must acquiesce till they can
persuade the legislature to change the law. As each citizen
must acquiesce in what the town meeting does, and pay his
share of the expenses of his town accordingly, so the town
or county must yield to the greater meeting of the State,
that is, the legislature. So, too, between the State and
the nation there are many subjects of common or general
interest, for which, therefore, all the people in the United
States are equally responsible. These subjects make the
basis of our General or National Government. As a club
of boys may have their own rules and officers and do what
they please with their funds, but when many clubs are
accustomed to play a common game, as base-ball, it becomes
convenient to agree upon certain rules which all the
clubs shall keep, so with the vast interests of millions of
The servants of the people. — When the government
becomes general, it is not the less in the hands of the
people. The people cannot, however, meet to hear and
discuss the numerous questions that arise. They must, as
in the case of the state legislature, choose men who shall
give their time and attention to advise and act for them.
These chosen men are accordingly paid a generous salary, 1
that they may be free to give up their private business and
devote themselves to the public good. Their time and
ability are thus in a special sense at the public service.
1 In England, where the Parliament has usually consisted of rich men,
no salary is paid its members, but the United States makes it possible for
a poor man to serve the public in Congress.
THE PEOPLE ACTING IN CONGRESS. 65
The responsibility does not, however, cease to rest with the
people, neither have they abandoned their power by choos-
ing representatives to act for them. They must still watch
their representatives ; and if these fail to act wisely, they
must send abler or more honest men in their place.
Thus the power always rests with the people, who are
themselves to blame if their national government is foolish
or corrupt. If the government is extravagant, it must be
because the people have chosen unfaithful servants ; or if
the government involved the nation in war, it would be
because the people had chosen men who would vote for
war in their name.
Congress. — The national Congress may be called the
great " town meeting " for the country, or the legislature
for all the States. Here, however, each member represents
many thousands, or in the case of the senators of populous
States, millions of his fellow-citizens.
The beginning of Congress. — While the colonies were
fighting with Great Britain they had a kind of union
among themselves and a congress to act for them. This
union was called a confederation ; but it had no power to
raise troops or money, unless the States chose to heed its
request. Its president was merely the chairman of its
meetings ; and it had no courts to settle disputes between
the citizens of different States. However many delegates
were present from a State in the old Continental Congress,
they could cast but one vote. The smallest State had
therefore as much power in deciding questions as the large
States. The confederation was not, therefore, very strong,
and the States repeatedly refused to do what Congress
The Federal Union. —For a little while after the War
of Independence, the States tried the experiment of acting
66 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
almost independently of each other. It proved a bad and
dangerous experiment. New York might make laws to
hurt or to tax the commerce of the people of New Jersey
or Connecticut. There was no sure way to provide for the
common good or the defence of the States. There was no
treasury with money in it, or the means to secure money,
to provide for the large debt which the Confederacy had
borrowed to carry on the war. A convention was therefore
called, which met in Philadelphia in 1787. It included
our greatest men, — Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, and
Madison. It finally worked out the plan for our present
Union, and recommended it to the people. According
to the new plan the States agreed, by the vote of their
people, to give up some of their independence, and to com-
mit to Congress the charge of matters which concern all
the people of the nation. No State now could do anything
to injure the people of another State. No State could
erect custom-houses on its boundaries to collect taxes from
the commerce of the other States. The new Union could
have a treasury and courts with the necessary authority
to command obedience. No State could justly resist the
authority of the general government; neither could any
State withdraw from the others and set up an independent
government. Since permanent union proved to be for the
general good, it was not only unfair for any State selfishly
to threaten the good of all by withdrawal from the Union,
but the State which cut itself off from the rest would be
likely to suffer in the long run.
What now, if Congress, which represents all the nation,
is unwise and passes laws that seem to hurt any part of
the people ? The remedy is to send wiser and better dele-
gates, or to persuade the mistaken majority ; because it is
a harm only to the few to acquiesce for the time in what
THE PEOPLE ACTING EN OONGBESS. liT
the majority have unwisely decreed, whereas it would in-
jure every one if any portion of the nation were to resist
or break up the government. This was abundantly dem-
onstrated in the Civil War.
How Congress is made up. The Senate. — Every
State, however small, is entitled to choose two senators,
who are elected by its legislature to serve for a term of six
years. One third of the Senate are elected every two
years, so that the senators' terms overlap each other. It is
never possible, therefore, as it might be in the House of
Representatives, to have a Senate of wholly new members.
The senators are supposed to be the representatives of all
the people of a State. If any bill or proposal for a law
is passed by the House of Representatives, it must then
obtain a majority in the Senate. So, likewise, the bills
which are passed by the Senate must obtain the consent
of the House. The Senate has the sole power with the
President to make treaties with foreign nations. It may
act as a court to try an officer, as for example the Pres-
ident, accused by vote of the House of Representatives of
criminal abuse of his office. It also can confirm or reject
the appointment of certain important officials, such as
judges and custom-house collectors, made by the Presi-
dent. It is thus intended to serve as a check upon a
hasty or wrong-headed President, who could do little harm
against the will of the representatives of the people of the
States. The Vice-President regularly presides over the
Senate, without having a vote, unless there is a tie, that is,
an equal vote on each side.
The House of Representatives. — Every State, however
small, has at least one representative in Congress. The
number of representatives which a State may send depends
upon its population. The House of Representatives num-
68 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
bers over three hundred members, — a body somewhat
large and awkward for the purpose of deliberation. The
Speaker, chosen by the representatives, and usually from
the political party which has the majority of congressmen,
presides over the House. The House is chosen every two
years, and directly by a vote of the people by districts.
Since the senators are chosen for a longer term, and by the
legislature of each State, it may happen that the majority
of one body differs from the majority of the other. The
House is supposed to represent the newest and freshest
thought of the people, while the Senate represents the
caution of the nation, which would hold the government
back from hasty action.
The Territories in Congress. — A Territory may appoint
a delegate who can speak on the floor of Congress, but may
not vote. Congress passes laws for the Territories, and
establishes courts until they are admitted as States, with
constitutions of their own. The District of Columbia
is governed by Congress like a Territory. The people of
the Territories cannot take part in national elections. In
the case of the District of Columbia, which can never be-
come a State, this disfranchisement of its population
seems to be a needless hardship.
Congressional districts. — The representatives are gen-
erally elected by districts, which must contain an equal
population. The number of districts in a State is liable
to be altered once in ten years after the census is taken.
If the new States gain rapidly in numbers, while older
States hardly gain at all, the latter may lose in congress-
men. For the House of Representatives is large enough
already, while the population of the country is increas-
ing. It is therefore necessary to assign a larger number
of people to each congressional district. At first thirty
THE PEOPLE ACTING IN CONGRESS. 69
thousand made a district. Now more than one hundred
and fifty thousand are required. There are States which
have not so large a population as this, and which therefore
have more than their due share of weight in Congress.
The representative usually resides in his district, but
there is no law to prevent the people from choosing an able
man from another part of the State.
Gerrymandering. — It is possible for the party which
has the majority in a State to lay out the congressional
district in such a way that the people of the opposite
party shall not have the natural advantage of their num-
bers. If, for example, the opposite party would naturally
carry three districts of a State, the division can be so made
that the great bulk of its voters shall be thrown into two
districts, or only one. Thus a district has been known as
the " Shoe-string district," from its artificial shape.
It is not only wrong but foolish for a party to do what
it would call unjust, in case the other party should come
into power and attempt to do the same. For the same
rule holds between parties as between men ; namely, to
treat each other as they would each wish to be treated.
Otherwise injustice or fraud has to be paid for, sooner or
later, with interest.
The powers of Congress. — The chief power of Con-
gress is in laying taxes and spending money. The revenue
of the United States amounts to upwards of four hundred
millions of dollars. The method of raising this great
sum rests with Congress, which by wisdom and fairness
may distribute the burden equally, or for want of due
care or honesty may annoy and oppress the people, out
of whose labor the national expenses must be paid. A
considerable part of the annual taxation has to be paid as
interest upon the national debt, incurred in the Civil War.
70 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Another enormous sum goes in the form of pensions, on
account of wounded or disabled soldiers. Many millions
are appropriated for the army and navy. Thus by far the
largest part of the taxation is the cost of strife.
In all the appropriations, especially for improving har-
bors and the navigation of rivers, and for government
buildings, such as post-offices and custom-houses, there is
opportunity for lavish waste of the public money. Unless,
then, the people send conscientious representatives to vote
upon the expenditures, they must expect to pay heavy
Congress has power to pass important acts concerning
the Territories and the great public lands ; concerning the
railways which pass from one State to another, and affect-
ing the value of their property ; concerning trade and
intercourse with foreign nations, either to encourage or
discourage trade, travel, and immigration. In all these
ways, great interests and the rights of individuals are
jeopardized by foolish, partisan, or dishonest congressmen.
Congress passes laws touching the Indians and votes the
supplies of food, blankets, tools, and farming implements
required by various treaties as well as the means for estab-
lishing and maintaining schools to educate and civilize
them. Negligence or dilatory action in these votes may
easily provoke trouble and war.
Congress has also the responsibility of sustaining and im-
proving the service of government, as in the case of the
post-office, the lighthouses, and the life-saving stations.
There are important subjects where the powers of Con-
gress lie close to the rights reserved to the States, so that
great wisdom may be required not to involve the general
government in a quarrel with the people of a State. Thus,
the Congress may pass acts in regard to federal elections,
THE PEOPLE ACTING IN CONGRESS. 71
which might make it necessary to send troops into a State,
in order to enforce the laws.
The House of Representatives must choose a President
of the United States, if, as sometimes happens, the electors
chosen by the people fail to choose one. The Senate must,
in like manner, elect a Vice-President. But the choice,
in each case, has to be from the three highest names voted
for by the people.
The appeal to the country. — Once in two years a
new House of Representatives must be elected. If, mean-
while, bad laws have been passed, or injurious taxes and
wasteful expenses have been voted, the people can condemn
the bad legislation by refusing to vote again for the men
who were responsible. If the same men are returned to
the new Congress, it will show that the people approve of
72 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
CITIES AND THEIR GOVERNMENT.
Cities. — When a town becomes quite populous, the
whole body of its people cannot conveniently be assembled
to consult for public matters. For while a small number
can hear whatever may be said and can deliberate questions,
careful deliberation becomes difficult in a crowd ; the wis-
est man may not be able to make his voice heard. Neither
is there needful time for all sides to be patiently discussed.
Public business also becomes more complicated and exten-
sive. New and often costly enterprises are required for
the health, comfort, and safety of the inhabitants. Fre-
quent meetings are necessary to provide for these enlarged
needs. The old simple methods of the town meeting are
therefore outgrown. In such cases the legislature, upon re-
quest of the people of the town, may give a charter ; that
is, a constitution with suitable rules, for the establishment
of a city with new machinery of government. The city
government is like a miniature legislature, or a town meet-
ing of delegates. It generally follows the old fashion of
the Parliament and has two branches, the smaller called the
Board of Aldermen, and a larger one called the Common
Council. As in the case of the legislature, both branches
are elected by the people. A mayor is also chosen, who
corresponds to the President or the governor of a State.
His duties will be spoken of in another chapter. Since
the people make their city government, they therefore
CITIES AND THEIR GOVERNMENT. 73
agree to abide by whatever it votes to do, to obey the rules
made for the city and to pay the taxes. The city govern-
ment cannot do anything contrary to the laws of the
State ; neither can its charter be altered without the con-
sent of the legislature.
Two modes of electing the aldermen. — Sometimes
a city is divided into districts, each of which chooses its
own alderman. The people of a cfistrict in this case do
not choose the best man whom they could find in the whole
city, but merely the candidate who can command the votes
of his own district. It may be some one whom the voters
of the other districts would disapprove. The alderman of
a district also is likely to think it his duty to get appro-
priations of money for his own part of the city, rather than
to consider the interests of all parts.
The other mode of electing aldermen is by a general
ticket. In other words, all the voters may vote for all the
aldermen. In this case the candidates are likely to be
known outside their own wards. It is possible to choose
a board with reference to their character, ability, and ex-
perience, who will seek to serve the whole city, and not
merely one part of it.
By the latter method it might happen that the political
party which had the most votes in the city would choose
all the aldermen. If, for example, the Democrats elected
the mayor, they might have the whole board of aldermen
too. The first method would allow the smaller party the
chance of winning a majority in some of the districts, and
so of having part of the aldermen. On the other hand, if
the majority of the voters are intelligent enough to wish
good government for their city, they will agree to choose
the best men of both parties for their aldermen. This plan
has often been successfully tried.
74 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The city government and the legislature. — The leg-
islature is largely for the purpose of making laws for all
the people of the State. It sometimes, also, undertakes
public works. The great canals of Pennsylvania and New
York were thus constructed by the State. It provides hos-
pitals for the insane and prisons. It takes charge of such
of the poor as can claim no home or residence in any town
of the State. It pays the expenses of the militia, who
may be called upon for the public safety. But the total
amount of money expended by the State government is
comparatively small, often smaller than the cost of man-
aging certain great railways or manufacturing companies
within its borders.
The duties of the city government, on the contrary,
are largely in administering the expenditures of money.
The city government has no laws to make except certain
petty rules ; for example, about the public grounds, or the
care of sidewalks and streets. But the amount of money
to be expended for police, for lighting the streets, for water
and sewerage, and many other purposes, is very great.
The largest city of a State, as Boston or Chicago, may re-
quire much more money than the legislature has to dispose
of. The cost of managing the city to each citizen may be
many times the cost to each for managing. the State, and
much more than the cost to each inhabitant for carrying
on the national government. Thus, while the State legis-
lature chiefly makes or alters laws, the city legislature
chiefly votes the expenditure of money. It is like the
board of directors of a great mill. If it is wasteful or
extravagant, it will increase the expense to each inhabitant
or roll up great debt. It needs therefore, like the mill, the
sendees of able, discreet, and honest men, On the other
hand, since the city government has the expenditure of
CITIES AND THEIR GOVERNMENT. 75
money, it becomes an object of temptation to idle, design-
ing, and unprincipled men, often unable to manage their
own affairs, who see in the great public treasury the
opportunity for plunder. Thus the notorious Tweed Ring
in New York City between 1860 and 1871, by various cor-
rupt practices, by bad votes, and bad appointments to
office, and bribery and fraud, pillaged the people to the
extent of many millions of dollars and increased the debt
by eighty millions.
Where responsibility lies. — If the stockholders of a
company were to choose for directors worthless or incapa-
ble men, who ruined the company, we should not blame
the bad directors only, but the careless stockholders who
had chosen them and kept them in office. So when the
people, who are the stockholders in the vast public prop-
erty of a city, choose men to be their directors in the
common council, whom they would not choose or trust
in any private charge of their own, the blame rests upon
the people ; and since the less intelligent part of the
people would not willingly vote for bad men who make
it more costly to live in their city, the greater blame
rests on intelligent citizens for their carelessness in let-
ting worthless directors expend the public money without
Village charters. — In the newer States, where the
people are sanguine in expecting marvellous increase in
numbers and prosperity, it is common to grant city govern-
ment to a very small population, often to a few hundred.
In the older States a city means more than in the West.
In Massachusetts, for instance, the rule is, not to give a
city charter to less than twelve thousand people ; there are
towns with a larger population which still prefer to govern
themselves in town meeting.
76 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
It sometimes happens that there is a large village within
a town, which needs water, a fire department, and police,
like a city. But it may not seem altogether just to tax
the farmers outside the village for these increased needs
of the villagers. The custom in some States, therefore, is
to grant a charter to the village, as a corporation, to pro-
vide itself with such extra facilities as the larger and more
scattered population of the town would be unwilling to
pay for. In this case the villagers pay two taxes, one as
their share of the town government, and the other tax for
The injustice to the farmers in helping to support a
village within their borders is not so real as they are apt
to think. For the increase of wealth in the village raises
the value of the farms, provides better roads, and gives the
farmers a good market for all that they can produce.
Thus the good of one part of the town proves to be the
good of the whole, and is consequently worth paying
Till: MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT. 77
THE MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT.
The first step in public business is to decide what to do.
This is legislation ; it is the work of the town meeting, or
the legislature, or Congress. It still remains to accom-
plish the work. In a simple ancient village, indeed, as on
the playground, the same persons might first consult and
make rules, and then proceed to act together. Even then
it becomes necessary to have leaders or chiefs to direct.
But when much business has to be done, it is necessary to
apportion it, and entrust certain persons with the care of it.
This is the executive branch of the government. Some-
times a committee of three or more persons is given the
charge of the public business, as in the case of the select-
men of towns, the school committee, the overseers of the
poor, and various other commissions for public works.
Thus in Switzerland an executive council of seven mem-
bers is at the head of the government.
Undivided responsibility. — It has been generally found,
when work of any sort needs to be done or important action
carried out, that some one person should have the responsi-
bility for it ; for that which is the business of several to
do, may more easily be neglected. In an army, therefore,
there must be a commander-in-chief, who as long as he
serves must have sole command ; as in a ship there is
one captain whom every one must obey. So it is wise to
78 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
put the execution of the laws and the direction of the
government into the hands of one man, the President ; or
in the State, the governor ; or in the city, the mayor.
As long as he serves, he shall be responsible for the faithful
discharge of his office, as well as for the other officers
appointed to assist him, who must therefore obey his orders.
The less the responsibility of the mayor or President is
divided with others, the freer he is, like the captain of the
ship, to act promptly and with efficiency. But he cannot
act contrary to the laws which the people or their represent-
atives make. If he is unfaithful or incapable, or abuses
his power, blame can be brought directly home to him, and
he can be displaced. For this end, the executive officer
is not commonly elected for a long term, often for only a
year. The President is elected for only four years, and no
President has ever been re-elected for more than a second
term. No executive officer in this country can therefore
long abuse his power, unless the people themselves become
The veto power. — Besides the duty of the President,
governor, or mayor to execute the laws, it has become the
custom, following an ancient royal usage, to entrust him
with the duty of forbidding the passage of an unwise law.
Instead, therefore, of giving his official signature to such
a law, which is the final step to make the law or vote
valid, he can and ought to return it to the body which
passed it, with his reasons for refusing to sign it. It
would not be well, however, to give one man, even though
he were the choice of all the people, the power entirely to
thwart the will of their own representatives. Thus, if
after further deliberation, as many as two-thirds of the
representatives still continue to vote for the bill or law, it
is passed, as it is said, " over the veto," and becomes law
THE MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT. 79
without the consent of the chief executive. 1 It often
happens that legislative bodies pass a bill of appropriations,
some of which are good while others are bad : it is therefore
wisely permitted, in some constitutions and charters, to
the governor or mayor to veto such items or parts of a
bill as he may deem injurious.
The power of the President. — The President of the
United States corresponds in some ways to the head of a
monarchy. Thus he is the commander-in-chief of the
army and navy : his consent or signature is necessary to
the passage of laws ; he has the appointment, — with the
consent of the Senate, w r ho vote to confirm or reject his
nomination, — of many important officers, who assist in
the administration of the country, — judges, custom-house
collectors, postmasters, and others, to the number of thou-
sands. On the other hand, his power is very greatly
limited. The king in an absolute monarchy could make
laws or could even suspend laws. He could make peace
or war of his own will. He could increase the taxes or
levy a new tax, and use the money for his own purposes.
As in the case of the father of a family, he had in his
person both the law-making and the executive power.
Matters of justice could also be referred to the king.
The Czar of Russia has such powers to this day, as the
M Father of his people." But our President cannot carry
out any plan or public policy, however necessary it seems,
unless the majority of both houses of Congress agree with
him. He may recommend, but Congress may pay no heed
to his advice. In many respects he has less freedom of
action than the president of a great railroad, and less
trust is placed in him. Moreover, the President is liable
1 In some constitutions the rules make it less difficult to pass a bill
over the veto. Four States do not give the governor the veto power.
80 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
to impeachment and removal from office, in case he vio-
lates the Constitution and laws. So fearful were the foun-
ders of our government lest the President might usurp
the power of a tyrant, that it has now become a question
whether he has power enough for best serving the interests
of the people.
The governors of the States are also strictly limited in
their power for good as well as evil. The legislature is
not, indeed, bound to do anything that the wisest governor
may recommend. Thus the office of governor, though
one of honor, gives comparatively little opportunity for
public usefulness. Its greatest duties, except in time of
emergency, when the governor might have to act as com-
mander-in-chief of the militia, consist in appointing honest
and capable men for certain officers, as for example, in
some States, the judges, and in vetoing bad bills that the
legislature ought not to have passed. The mayors of cities
likewise have been generally made mere figure-heads.
They could perhaps prevent or veto bad plans, but they
could not secure the passage of better plans. Thus through-
out the machinery of our government we have cut down
the powers of responsibility of the executive far more
than would be well in the conduct of any other important
business. We have acted like a club of boys, who, after
choosing a captain, and making proper rules for his conduct,
instead of following him, must stop and take a vote on
every order that he gives, or even insist upon giving
The Cabinet. — Although it is wise to make one man
responsible for the conduct of his office, it often happens
that he wants advice, as a commander-in-chief must some-
times call a council of his officers. In the case of our
President, the heads of the great departments of the gov-
THE MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT. 81
ernment — the Secretary of State, who has charge of our re-
lations to foreign governments ; the Secretary of the Treas-
ury; the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy;
the Secretary of the Interior, who has control of the busi-
ness of government lands, the patent office, the pensions,
the census, and the Indian tribes , the Postmaster-General ;
and the Attorney-General, who is the legal adviser for the
government; with the head of a new department, the
Commissioner of Agriculture — constitute the Cabinet, or
the President's Council. These officers are appointed by
the President, and generally from the party which elected
him. He consults with them as to the course of his ad-
ministration, but he is not bound to take their advice.
They hold office during the pleasure of the President.
Each member of the Cabinet is responsible for the
conduct of his department of the government : some of
them have many thousands of clerks and other officers
under them. Their responsibility is limited, however, and
sometimes interfered with, and taken away by the action
of Congress, who may refuse to do as the heads of depart-
ments recommend in their annual reports, or may fail to
vote the money needed to carry on the work of any depart-
ment. When, therefore, waste or loss occurs, or injustice
is done (as, for instance, to the Indians), we cannot always
be sure whether to blame the President and his secretary,
or Congress, who may have neglected to do as the secre-
In England the Ministry correspond somewhat to our
Cabinet, but they must also be members of Parliament.
On the contrary, our Cabinet have no voice in Congress.
The English ministers hold power as long as they an
supported by a majority in the House of Commons. If the
majority ohanges and disapproves of their conduct, tin
82 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
custom is that they shall resign and let another set of
ministers undertake the administration. It may easily
happen that the sovereign does not approve of the Prime
Minister in power. Nevertheless, if a majority of the
House of Commons support him, he holds office in' the
name of the sovereign. In Germany, on the contrary,
the chief minister must be acceptable to the Emperor.
The Governor's Council. — The governor of Massachu-
setts, and of two other States, has a sort of cabinet of
advisers, who also act with him in making certain appoint-
ments to office, or in granting pardons to criminals ; but
his Council are elected by the people. He cannot, there-
fore, like the President, act independently of them. It is
hard to see any reason for having such a council, except
that it is an old custom. In many cities the charter or
constitution makes the board of aldermen a sort of council
for the mayor, who is so far hampered in his freedom of
appointment of his officers, and in his conduct.
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. 83
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT, OR THE
COURTS AND THE LAWS.
The legislative branch of the government represents the
will of the people, determines what ought to be done,
makes laws, and appropriates money. The executive
branch of the government, assisted by an army of officers,
carries out the laws that Congress or the legislature passes,
and lays out the moneys appropriated. But frequent ques-
tions arise as to what is just or legal. Laws sometimes
appear to conflict with each other, or not to be in accord
with the Constitution. The laws of one State may be dif-
ferent from the laws of another, so as sometimes to conflict
or work injury. Besides, there are those who, through
ignorance or vice, break the laws or do injustice to others.
The courts, or the judicial branch of the government, is
intended to answer these questions and to pronounce what
the law is. It is like the umpire on the playground.
The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United
States, consisting of nine judges who are appointed for life.
Only important questions come before this tribunal. If
Massachusetts or Georgia were to pass a law which bore
unequally on citizens of New York, travelling or doing
business in the other State, the Supreme Court may declare
such a law unconstitutional. For the Constitution of the
United States guarantees the rights of the people of
the different States. Part of the time the judges of the
84 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Supreme Court hold session together in Washington. The
country is also divided into nine circuits, each of which has
a judge of its own, besides the judge of the Supreme Court
who may for the time be assigned to attend upon the busi-
ness comprised in the circuit. Below the circuit courts
there are more than fifty district courts, each with its
judge, its marshal or sheriff, and its district attorney.
Appeal may be made in certain cases from one court to
a higher or to the Supreme Court. If a ship rescued the
cargo of another ship, and questions arose between the
two owners, such a case would come before the United
States court. So if any one were arrested for smug-
gling goods. If a question arose .about a railroad which
crossed several States, it might come before a United States
judge. So with suits about patents upon inventions and
the copyrights of books. If a question arose under any
act or law of Congress ; or between citizens of different
States ; in such cases the national courts may be asked to
There are also Territorial courts, which are supported,
by the general government, till the Territories become
States. The District of Columbia, as we have already seen,
like a Territory, is under the laws made, not by its own
people, but by Congress, who — since it is the seat of gov-
ernment — are obliged to control the District, and to take
the charge of its expenses. A Court of Claims at Wash-
ington considers bills and disputed accounts urged against
the national government ; for differences sometimes arise
between the treasury officers of the United States and the
men who have furnished supplies or undertaken contracts
of work for the government. There is much " red tape "
or form required in the business of the government, so
that mistakes and delays occur to the injury of individuals.
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. 85
The State courts. — Each State has its own judicial
system, with various grades of courts. There are magis-
trates in every locality, before whom criminals or petty
questions can be brought. There are police courts for
cities or for populous districts. The superior courts are
held from time to time at the court-house or shire town
of each county. Questions of law which cannot be satis-
factorily settled in the lower courts may be referred to the
Supreme Court, who, sitting together, make final decision,
and if the meaning of the law is not clear, give it inter-
The election of judges. A bad method. — In some
States the judges are elected by the people for a term of
years. If the people are careless or ignorant, this practice
furnishes inferior judges. A judge who, in aiming to be
fair, renders an unpopular decision, is liable to be turned
out of his office at the next election. Weak men may
be tempted to use the office of judge, so as to secure a
re-election rather than to administer strict justice. It is
as though, not the players, but the bystanders, chose the
umpire for a game. It ought, however, to be said, that
judges have sometimes shown themselves thoroughly cour-
ageous under this system, and have risked their re-election
in making honest decisions.
The better plan. The appointment of judges. — In
some States the judges are appointed by the chief authority
of the State, either by the governor and his Council, or
in others, by the legislature. The judges of the United
States are appointed by the President and approved by
the Senate. The appointing power is thus made respon-
sible for the high character of the judge. This is as
tliough schoolboys were to trust their oldest fellows, or
their captain, to name the umpire ; lest the younger boys,
86 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
instead of voting for the candidate who would make the
fairest umpire, might vote for some one without experience.
The judges of the United States, and of certain States
also, are appointed for life. They are, therefore, indepen-
dent of fear or favor. However unpopular their decision
may be, provided it is honest, they cannot be turned out
of their office. But there is a way provided, by which, if
a judge should ever do gross wrong, he can be impeached
and removed by the legislature, or by Congress. For the
judge is still responsible to the people, through their
representatives, like the umpire who should refuse to act
How far the courts have power. — In early times, one
power, the king, like a father, might make laws and ex-
ecute them, and decide disputes which arose under them.
But each branch of our government is distinct from the
other. Thus while the Supreme Court of the United States
cannot send an army into a State to enforce the laws, the
President, under certain conditions, might send a force.
But it would be impossible for the President or the gov-
ernor to carry out an unpopular decision of a court, if
the Congress or the legislature were unwilling to make
provision for the needful expense. Thus in a free country,
all decisions of the courts must rest upon the general
consent and the conscience of the people themselves.
As boys, however, hold it dishonorable not to heed the
umpire's decision, and since indeed no play could go on
successfully without justice, so men generally agree in
demanding of each other that all shall obey the decrees of
The machinery of the courts. — Besides judges, there
are attorneys or lawyers employed in behalf of the people.
The attorney-in-chief for each State is the legal adviser of
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. 87
the government. There are also attorneys or solicitors for
counties or districts, whose duty it is to prosecute persons
accused of breaking the laws. Each city, too, must have
its attorney or solicitor, and perhaps, in a great city, a
little staff of lawyers and clerks, who are constantly
employed in defending the interests of the people. Thus
the individual citizen may claim damages for loss or injury
from the defect in a road, and the lawyer for the city
must present the side of the people in the courts.
Besides the courts which try criminals or questions of
business, there are probate courts, with their judges,
which take care of the wills which men leave for the
disposal of their property ; or, if necessary, appoint guar-
dians for orphan children. There must be some authority
also, like the superior judge, who can decree a separation
of husband and wife, or perhaps a divorce, in the case of
a bad marriage. In such cases there may be suitable pro-
vision made, by the order of the court, for the children.
Sheriffs and constables also attend upon the courts, to
serve their summons or to guard prisoners. Clerks and
registers have the care of the records of the courts, or
keep copies of the deeds and wills and other documents,
without which there would be risk of frequent mistakes
and disputes about property. Thus, if a man sells a
piece of land, the sale is entered on record at the registry
of deeds, and can at any time be consulted.
The police. — In large towns and cities it is necessary
to have a body of police, sometimes numbering many
hundreds, to watch the property and guard the safety of
the citizens. The police are paid by the city and are at
the command of the mayor. But in some cities they
are under officers or a commission appointed, not by the
mayor, but by the governor. This is because the people
88 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
of the whole State do not trust the governments of the
The jury. — It is an old custom that when a matter of
justice has to be decided, twelve men are called in to act
as a jury, and, after hearing the case, to vote which side
should have the verdict. The early settlers brought this
custom from England. It is indeed said to be traced far
back to Germany. No one can be prosecuted for crime
without a jury. The custom in most States is that the
jury must be unanimous; that is, the twelve must agree,
or else the accused cannot be convicted. The accused has
the right to challenge, or decline to accept, a certain num-
ber of those offered as jurymen. ■ The court may also set
aside such men as he believes may have already formed
an opinion about the case. This sometimes serves to nar-
row the jury down to the most ignorant men who do not
read the newspapers ; or, in some cases, to men who may
be indulgent towards the offence ; and since it is difficult
always to bring quite conclusive evidence to compel twelve
men to agree, it must sometimes happen that the jury
system lets the guilty escape. On the other hand, it is
thought better that some guilty persons should escape,
than that any innocent person should run the risk of being
The grand jury. — A charge might be carelessly brought
against a person who would be put to great trouble
and loss by having to stand a trial. Before a case is fairly
brought into court, therefore, the grand jury, which may
be as large as twenty-three men, examines the charge, and,
if good reason is shown, finds a bill or indictment.
How jurymen are chosen. — Every man, with certain
exceptions, such as lawyers and doctors, is liable to be
drawn by lot to serve as a juryman. The duty is some-
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. 89
what like that of serving in time of war as a soldier. For
if every one could shirk who did not enjoy the service, it
would make the work harder for others, and perhaps throw
it into ignorant hands.
The delay of justice. — The old custom of requiring
all the jury to agree may easily delay justice and render it
costly ; for it may be necessary to try the same case re-
peatedly, before a jury will be found who can agree. If
then some fault is found in the decision, so that an appeal
may be taken to a higher court, the question may be kept
in the courts for years, not only to the cost of the parties
to the lawsuit, but also at great cost to the public, who
have to maintain the cumbrous machinery of justice, and
to pay for judges, sheriffs, and jurymen. Some think that
the laws should generally be changed so that, except in
criminal cases, the vote of two-thirds of a jury, or as in
the case of the Supreme Court, a majority, shall be enough
The referee. — It is not uncommon for both parties to a
question or dispute, to agree to leave the decision to
capable referees. This is the method which good temper
would always dictate between honest and friendly men.
The judge and the jury. — In our system, except in
what are known as the equity courts, and in petty cases
before a police court, the judge does not himself decide,
for example, upon the question of the guilt of an accused
person, or a dispute about property ; but the jury decide,
after hearing the witnesses and the evidence upon both
sides, with the arguments or statements of the lawyers.
The judge presides and sees that the trial is according to
law. He also gives the charge to the jury, or in other
words, instructs the jury as to the law and advises them
how to consider the question. He may also, in certain
90 • THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
cases, set the verdict of the jury aside and order a fresh
trial. In the Supreme Court, however, where questions
of what the law is are considered, the judges themselves
Witnesses and the oath. — The usage is to require the
witnesses, who bring evidence in the court, to take an
oath or swear to the truth of what they testify. The
breaking of the oath is called perjury and makes one
liable to punishment. Important officers of government
and clerks of corporations are also required to take the
oath of office for the faithful performance of their duties.
Those who favor the use of the oath hold that it adds the
weight of religion to men's consciences, and urges them to
be scrupulous and accurate.
On the other hand, it is said that no oath can make a
promise or the statement of a witness more sacred than
it is in itself. It is also objected that the oath is often
administered in a slovenly and meaningless manner, and
that a serious affirmation under the penalty of perjury is
enough. The law already allows those who have con-
scientious objections to the oath to make such affirmation.
Habeas corpus. — In the days of tyrants, when often a
great lord had power of life and death in his domain, it
sometimes befell that a man was thrown into prison on
some charge or suspicion and not brought to trial at once,
but kept confined till he died. One of the ancient liber-
ties, therefore, which the English people asserted, was that
of a prompt trial in behalf of any person imprisoned on
suspicion. A friend or neighbor could go in behalf of the
prisoner before the proper court, and get what is called a
writ of habeas corpus (Latin words, commanding the jailer
to produce the body). Good cause must then be shown
at once why the man ought to be confined, or else he is
THE JUDICIAL BKANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. 91
entitled to release. No king or enemy could, therefore,
keep a man in jail without fair process of law.
Bail. — In most cases, unless the charges are very serious,
the prisoner may procure bail, and go free till the trial
comes off ; that is, some person may agree to answer for his
appearance when the trial is called, or to pay the forfeit
of a sum of money.
Exceptions. — There are times of war or great public
danger when the privileges of bail and habeas corpus may
be suspended. It might happen that certain accused
persons appeared to be very dangerous to the State, or
that popular excitement would not for the time allow a
fair trial. Thus the laws themselves must yield to the
public safety, as when in time of dangerous sickness, the
ordinary rules of the house may be set aside.
The common law. — The early settlers brought with
them the laws and systems of courts, which they had been
used to in England. These laws had grown partly out of
men's sense of right, as the laws against violence and
crime ; also out of men's dealings in trade, and in holding
property. As new questions arose in the courts, the
judges' decisions became precedents, or examples to help
decide other similar cases. The common laic is the accu-
mulation of such decisions through many generations. It
is possible that the old decision or custom was mistaken;
some conscientious and independent court may then cor-
rect it, and make a new example to be followed by others.
The common law is like the rules of the games among
schoolboys. The boys play according to custom, and their
umpire tries to interpret the rules so as to do justice. In
this way he will sometimes establish a new ride.
Statute laws. — It is also possible to make new laws
or to set aside imperfect ones by the agreement of the
92 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
people, or by their representatives. These are statute laws,
such as the legislature or Congress makes.
The laws and the right. — Justice is often more than
the laws. For the laws can only fix what the general
sense of the people or their customs permit. The laws of
a nation may thus allow wrong, like slavery. We may,
therefore, keep within the laws and yet not do right.
Neither do good laws profess to work perfect justice.
The laws and the courts are like machinery, which will
work wrong if men mismanage it. Hence the courts will
frequently delay justice, because they are overworked.
The laws must sometimes do justice for the sake of the
whole, at the expense or loss of the individual. For the
general rule may accidentally hurt the individual who
falls in its way. The courts are also very costly, not only
to the people who support them, but to the person who
uses them, who must hire lawyers to defend his cause.
Thus the actual working of the courts often discourages
men from resorting to them, and tends to urge parties to
settle their differences by friendly arbitration.
The tyranny of law. — In the old colony of Massachu-
setts Bay, and in Connecticut, the majority of the people
made laws compelling every one to go to church ; but
even if it was good for all- to go to church, it was wrong
for the majority to use such laws to compel the minority.
It is tyranny for one man to insist arbitrarily that others
must do what he says ; so it may be tyranny for many
men to force others to obey their will.
The laws are merely instruments for the protection of
all the people. Their proper use, therefore, like the rules
of a club, depends upon the common consent. They fail
to be useful as soon as any considerable number of citi-
zens deem them unfair or oppressive, or especially, against
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. 93
their conscience. In this case, the laws may tempt to
disorder, violence, and possibly to rebellion. Besides, a
majority of men may for a time be mistaken about right,
as a majority has often been mistaken about religion. The
laws, therefore, which are made for all, ought not merely
to enforce the opinions of one party, but to express the
common agreement of intelligent and decent citizens.
Whatever is right beyond the laws will thus come into
vogue by persuasion, example, and enlightened public
opinion, better than when forced through legislation.
Freedom of speech and the press. — The constitutions
of our States generally secure to the people freedom to
speak or publish whatever they think. They may speak
and write against the government, and try to change it.
They may publish gossip about the President and other
officers. They may write or speak so as to shock the
prejudices of their fellow-citizens. This liberty rests upon
our trust in the people and in the soundness of our govern-
ment. A timid or despotic government, like Russia, could
not permit such freedom of discussion. Our laws only
slightly restrict it. They forbid the publication of mali-
cious or libellous matter designed to hurt a person's busi-
ness or character. They also forbid low and immoral
publications. On the whole, however, it is thought safe
to allow men to speak their minds, since errors are most
effectively answered when fairly brought to the light.
94 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE TREASURY AND THE TAXES.
The public expenses. — The sum of money required for
all the expenses of the town, city, state, and national gov-
ernment is several hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
It is an average of more than ten dollars apiece for every
man, woman, and child in the country. In the great cities
of course the average is much greater, amounting in some
cases to thirty dollars a year for each inhabitant. If all
this money is wisely expended, it comes back to the people
in various kind of service ; so that they are not only
happier, but richer than they would be without it. For
example, the whole country is richer and not poorer on
account of the expense for lighthouses. So, too, with
the fire department of a city. The amount needed for
public expenses is collected in the form of taxes.
The taxes. — In every town or city there is a collector
of taxes and a treasurer. There are also assessors; that
is, officers who determine what property there is in the
town, and what amount, therefore, each person ought to pay
according to law. Each town must raise money enough
for its own expenses and also its share of the expenses of
the county and of the State government. Its share is
determined by the proportion of the taxable property in
it, such as land, houses, mills, railroads, compared with
the whole amount in the county or the State. So with
the share which each person pays. It depends upon the
amount of taxable property which he or she has.
THE TREASURY AND THE TAXES. 95
County treasurers take charge of the money which each
county requires for its courts and other purposes. The
county commissioners have authority to lay out the money
of the county, according to law.
The State treasurer, with his clerks, keeps account of
the moneys received from all the towns and cities (or
counties) of the State. A board of officers or State asses-
sors may determine the share that each town ought to pay
for the common good.
Direct taxes: the income tax. — When a tax-bill is
brought directly to each person, or to each business firm or
company, it is called a direct tax. It is levied sometimes
upon the value of the actual propert}^ that any one
possesses, or again upon the amount of one's income or
salary. The income tax would be a very fair method, if
every one could be trusted to report his income to the
assessors, but a very few dishonorable citizens who failed
to report truthfully would at once throw an unfair burden
upon all the rest.
Double taxation. — Besides the visible property which
a man owns, such as houses and land (real estate), and
movable articles, such as furniture, etc., he may have
various certificates of the stock of corporations, or bonds
or notes. A great amount of wealth is held in this form.
It stands for the fact, as we shall see more fully later,
that the holder owns a share of property which some other
person or company manages. If it is a railway bond, it
means that the holder really owns some part of the prop-
erty of the railway company. If it is a note or mortgage,
it means that the holder really owns so much of the
property, perhaps a farm, that the man who gave the note
works. This actual propert} r , wherever it is, is assessed
and taxed for all its value. If, besides, the man who holds
96 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
shares in the property is taxed for those shares, the tax
becomes twofold. This is thought by many to be unfair.
For the man who owns the whole of a piece of property,
a mill, or a block of buildings, has only to pay one tax
The property owned thus, in shares, goes under the
name of personal property. Since the certificates, bonds,
or notes are private papers, locked up out of sight, the
assessors cannot determine how much property any one
has in this form, unless each citizen makes a correct
report. If any citizen fails to make such a report, the
burden of taxation is thrown upon those who make a
truthful report, who thus are obliged to pay more than
their share. The laws about taxing such personal property
vary in the different States. As a matter of fact, it has
been found that such taxes are hard to collect, and tempt
men either to be negligent or dishonorable about bearing
their public burdens.
The single or land tax. — In some countries the govern-
ment or the king has claimed to own all the land. This
was the custom in many parts of India. The rent of the
land was thus the government tax. In Russia, also, and
in many half-civilized countries, the commune, or village,
or tribe, own all the land in common. This was, perhaps,
the most ancient form of possession. We can imagine
that when the first settlers came to America, the royal
government might likewise have kept the ownership of
the land, and rented it to the settlers. When the govern-
ment was changed and vested in the people, the nation
would then have owned all the land ; and every individual
would have rented what he needed to use, of the nation.
The taxes would thus have fallen in the form of rent.
There are those who think that this way of raising the
THE TREASURY AND THE TAXES. 97
taxes would be easier and simpler than present methods ;
they therefore advocate a tax on land, and nothing else,
precisely as though the nation owned and rented the land.
No one would then be able to hold land without actually
using it, or to buy great tracts of land, or house-lots,
merely to make money by selling them again.
On the other hand, the same vast amount of money
would still have to be raised. The people of the poorer
country districts would perhaps need more money for
schools and other expenses, than the amount of the rent of
their lands. The management of the rents, and the fair
division of the needed funds, would be likely, at last, to
fall upon the central or national government. This would
involve a change in the whole theory of our government,
which, as we have seen, is desired to train the people of
each State and town to responsibility about their own
Besides, if the government took all the rent, the pres-
ent owners of the land would suffer the same loss, as
though their property had been taken away from them.
The truth is that the nation bearing the taxes is like a
creature carrying a burden. You wish to fix the burden
so equally as to make the least strain. If, then, you ever
change the position of the burden, you must be careful
not to bruise and injure the new set of muscles.
The duties of assessors. — It is impossible to tell
exactly what different pieces of property in a town are
worth. One man might set the value too high, and
another too low. Several men, therefore, constitute the
Board of Assessors, so that their different judgments shall
correct each other. If, then, the assessors endeavored, as
the law requires, to discover the true value of every one's
property, the taxes would fall pretty fairly on every our :
98 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
as the prices of goods fall on all alike, although it is
always harder for some to pay than for others. If, how-
ever, as often happens, the assessors fail to tax any
piece of property for its true value, this brings an unjust
burden on every one else. Thus, in many cities, men
have been permitted by the assessors to hold lands at a
lower tax than the real value. The few have thus been
enabled to grow rich by the rise of the lands, at the
expense of the many. So, too, throughout the State, if
every board of assessors did their duty, and told the true
value of the property in each town, no town would have
to pay more than its share for the expenses of the State.
If, however, the assessors of any town deliberately tax
their own townspeople for only one-half of the true value
of their property, while more faithful assessors in another
town tax the true value of their property, the latter town
is made to bear an unfair proportion of the public burden.
The poll tax. — There is in many States a small tax
which is levied equally upon all men from twenty years
old, whether they have property or not, also upon women
in case they are voters. This might be called the voter's
tax. Since it often is not paid, and sometimes prevents
poor citizens from voting, or again tempts candidates for
office to pay it in behalf of their supporters ; and since it is
rather expensive in its collection, many think the poll tax
unwise. On the other hand, it is held that every citizen
who votes ought to be willing to pay something directly
into the public treasury.
Licenses, fees, etc. — There are certain occupations,
for example, that of a pedler or a pawnbroker, for which
it is well that the persons enjoying them shall be registered
and take out a license. They should therefore pay some
fee to cover the expense of the registration office. Owners
THE TREASURY AND THE TAXES. 99
of dogs, also, are obliged to pay a fee. There are certain
public privileges which may fairly demand a payment in
return to the public. Thus, if a street railway enjoys the
use of the public highways, it is just that it should pay for
its franchise, that is, its right to use the streets. Since,
however, the fares have to be sufficient to enable the com-
pany to pay their taxes, the amounts thus raised are apt to
come out of the pockets of the people, and are a kind of
indirect tax. Precisely as when the owner of a tenement
house, after paying, we will suppose, a thousand dollars for
the taxes, may fix his rents so that the occupants of the
house share the tax, and pay each a few dollars a year on
account of it. Thus no tax can be levied or increased
without making itself felt somewhere in the expenses of
Liquor licenses. — In many States the sale of intoxi-
cating drinks requires a license, and since a large amount
of crime and accident and public loss comes through these
drinks, a fee — in some cities as high as a thousand dollars
or more — is required to be paid for the purchase of the
license. The liquor dealer, of course, pays the tax as he
pays his rent, but he expects to get his money back from
the people who buy of him. Of course, whenever a license
is granted for any kind of business, the people are under-
stood to authorize it as rightful. If the business is inju-
rious, they then become responsible for it.
The taxes for the nation. — The taxes for the national
government are separate from all others. They are usually
indirect; that is, they are not assessed upon individuals
according to the value of their property or their income.
The government has a right to lay a direct tax, and in the
Civil War actually levied an income tax upon all citizens
whose salary or income was above a thousand dollars a year.
100 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
In ordinary times, however, the nation raises its moneys
partly by taxes upon articles which are imported from for-
eign countries. In every seaport, therefore, there is a cus-
tom-house with a collector and other officers, if necessary, to
levy these duties. The merchants who sell the goods then
make the price high enough to repay them for the cost and
trouble of the tax. Whoever uses the goods thus helps
pay the tax according to the amount which he uses. If,
for example, the duty on sugar were two cents a pound,
and a man's family used one hundred pounds in a year, he
would pay two dollars in taxes.
The internal revenue. — Another part of the revenue
of the government comes from a tax upon various articles
produced or manufactured in this country, such as tobacco
and spirits. This is called the internal revenue. As be-
fore, the producer or manufacturer first pays this tax and
puts a higher price upon the article when he sells it. Thus
the people pay the indirect tax in the end, since each man
who buys a pound of tobacco pays a tax as a part of the
price. The manufacturer or producer only collects the tax
for the government and assesses it when he sells his
The government also has extensive lands from which,
as they are sold, an income is derived. In some countries,
as in Germany, the government derives a revenue from the
mines and the timber in the forests. The money from these
sources, however, must come in the end from the labor of
the people, who have to pay for the land, the ores and
coal, and the timber.
In the case of the post-office, or when, as in some Euro-
pean countries, the government manages the telegraph or
railroads, the people evidently pay in postage, or fares, or
freight, for what they use or enjoy. So in the water rates,
THE TREASURY AND THE TAXES. 101
when the city provides water, or the gas bills, if the city
manufactures the gas. All the expenses of the govern-
ment ought to go in some way towards procuring benefit,
health, safety, or convenience.
The source of all taxes. — The cost of all the work of
the government, national and local, throughout the coun-
try, may be roughly estimated as equal to the constant
labor of a million workmen. All the produce of the nation
may be likened to a vast pyramid of wealth which the
labor and the skill of the people have brought together.
This pyramid of produce is supposed to be greater for an
honest government. The living of the million men and
women who do the work for the government, that is, for
all the people, must, therefore, come out of the common
product. And while the average amount of (say) ten dol-
lars a year seems at first to be deducted from the share of
each inhabitant, the share left to each ought to be greater
on account of the benefits that the government secures ;
as the amount that each spends for tools, so far from mak-
ing him poorer, enables him to earn more money than if
he had no tools.
Exemptions from taxes. — It is evident that the taxes
ought to be shared by all. But it is fair, if the citizens
generally agree, to free or exempt from taxation certain
kinds of property, like colleges, hospitals, or churches,
which are not for private gain. Such kinds of property,
somewhat like parks or public libraries, are for the interest
of the whole people and really add to the public wealth of
a city or State. There would be no object, then, by taxing
them to make them cost more, or to discourage persons
from providing them. If, however, any such property ever
ceased to be for the public interest, or was managed merely
for private gain or pleasure, it ought to be taxed.
102 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The public faith. — We hold every man to his prom-
ises, and especially to the honest payment of his debts.
Even when he has been foolish in incurring debt or has
wasted his money, we think it unfair that he should make
others lose on his account. So with the promises or the debts
of a city or nation. But a nation lives through hundreds
of years. It may happen that a single generation makes
difficult promises or incurs a great debt, as England did in
the war with Napoleon. Perhaps the debt may have been
foolish, and through the fault of bad government, as with
some of the Southern States after the Civil War. In this
case it may not at first seem to be just that the people of
a new generation should be taxed to keep promises which
others had wrongfully made. But when we think more
carefully, we see that the people who have inherited the
institutions and the public property of a state ought also
to make good its promises and obligations ; as one who
inherited his grandfather's estate should be willing to pay
his debts. This is not only right, but, as usual, what is
right proves in the long run to be also wise. For a state
that always keeps its promises and pays its debts has
credit, or, in other words, is trusted, and can borrow money,
if necessity arises, as France, England, and the United
States easily can, at a very low rate ; whereas a state
which does not keep its promises loses its credit, and its
citizens get a dishonest name.
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. 103
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM.
The theory of our government is that, since the citizens
are the rulers, every young person ought at least to be
well enough educated to make an intelligent citizen, or, in
other words, to be able, when summoned to vote, to know
what he votes for. He ought at least to be able to read,
or he might not be sure that he used the ballot which he
intended. Neither unless he could inform himself upon
the questions at issue, such as the tariff, free trade, etc.,
could he be expected to decide understanding^ to which
of the great political parties he wished to belong. Besides,
the better educated and the more skilful people are, the
more prosperous their nation becomes.
The common wealth. — There is another reason why we
desire the education of all children. It is that every one
may have equal access to that large part of the common
wealth which consists in thoughts, ideas, inventions, and
the arts, the discoveries of science, and the control over
the forces of nature. This common wealth of knowledge,
to which learning is the key, is worth more to the nation
than all the goods and buildings in the land. It is through
the wealth in thoughts and ideas that the other kinds of
wealth are created and men learn the secrets of happiness.
This larger and more precious part of the resources of the
nation ought to be within the reach of the poor as well as
the rich. The child who has knowledge without money
104 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
will thus be better off than one who has money without
Free schools. — Schools are, therefore, provided by law
in every State, and children are usually required to at-
tend for a certain term in each year, up to perhaps the
age of fourteen years. They are also encouraged to con-
tinue at school longer, and high and normal schools are
provided for them. These higher schools are expected
to furnish teachers for the common schools, as well as to
educate those who shall be leaders of public opinion and
from whom we may obtain suitable officers for our govern-
ment. The education is not only in books. Many of the
States also encourage manual training, or the education
of the hand and eye, so that boys and girls shall be skilled
to take up trades and to understand the varied industries
which the nation carries on. Most States support agri-
cultural colleges, where the best methods of farming are
taught. Grants of valuable public lands have been made
by Congress to the States for the endowment of these
The higher education. — In some States, as Michigan,
in addition to high schools in the larger places, education
in the higher branches, including law and medicine, is pro-
vided by a state university. Many States, in order to
encourage education, have made special grants to private
academies or colleges ; somewhat as the national govern-
ment, in order to secure education as fast as possible for the
Indians, has voted appropriations to schools among them,
under the care of private individuals or societies. But
such schools are commonly sectarian ; and since it is unjust
to help Methodist schools, for instance, and not to help
Catholic schools equally, and since it is often hard to
judge fairly between the claims of rival institutions, many
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. 105
hold that public money ought only to be given to public
schools, and not at all to schools from the control of which
any citizen could be excluded for his opinions.
What the public schools should not teach. — It is
unfair that any teacher who is employed at the common
expense should urge his religious opinions, or indeed any
of his private opinions, upon the children of parents who
may think differently ; it would not be fair for a teacher
who was supported by all the people to try to persuade the
children of Democrats to become Republicans. Otherwise
the public schools would become private, or sectarian, or
partisan. There are some subjects, therefore, on which
men differ widely, which are not well fitted for use in
the public schools. But it is always right, upon such
subjects as the schools consider, to teach the facts, since
every right-minded person must wish to know the truth,
and no one need fear that truth will do harm.
The teaching force. — Besides thousands of regular
paid teachers, there are other officers whose business it is to
look after the schools. There is thus a National Bureau of
Education, which collects the facts about education through-
out the country. The State also has its board of education
appointed by the governor. Cities and towns or counties
or groups of towns have their superintendents or supervis-
ors of education, who are appointed to aid the teachers
and inform them of the best methods. Committees, gener-
ally unpaid, and sometimes school agents, are elected in
each locality to represent the people in the care of the
schools, to appoint teachers, and to advise about the need-
ful expenditures. The schools are also open for the public
to visit. If they fail to serve their purpose, it must there-
fore be through the fault or neglect of the people them-
106 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Women in the control of the schools. — In some States
women, who do not otherwise vote, are invited to share
in the election of the school committees. They are also
made eligible for the various boards of education. This
is not only because the majority of teachers are women,
but because it is expected that women generally, and
mothers especially, will take a deep and intelligent inter-
est in education.
The cost of the schools. — It is estimated that more
than one hundred and twenty-five millions of dollars, or
about one-fifth of all the taxes, is expended upon schools.
The schoolhouses are built and furnished by the town or
district, but the State treasury assists poorer towns to pay
for their teachers. The interest in education and the
system pursued vary much in different States. Thus in
Alabama, which has a large population of poor people,
the amount appropriated gives an average of only one
dollar and a quarter to each child in the State ; or less
than two dollars and a half for each scholar actually en-
rolled. In the city of Boston the average cost of each
scholar is over twenty-eight dollars a year. This shows
the cost which the community bears for the sake of having
Public and private schools. — There are many schools,
academies, and colleges supported by individuals, who pay
for the tuition of their children ; or supported by an endow-
ment fund, under the care of trustees. Sometimes the
private school is established by some church or religious
denomination. Its teaching may or may not be as thorough
as in public schools of the same grade. Since, however, in
a republic all must live, act, and vote on equal terms as fel-
low-citizens, it seems desirable that, at least during some
part of the course of instruction, all shall be educated
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. 107
together. The citizens will thus become better acquainted
with each other, and will be likely to be more fair and
The parents who pay for tuition in private schools are
required also to pay their share of the taxes for the free
schools. This is because it is for the good of all to sup-
port the schools rather than to allow children to grow up
in ignorance ; precisely as it is for the general good to
have police and courts, although some are rich enough to
have private watchmen, and others may not need a police-
man at all. In other words, it is believed that, upon the
whole, the community is better off for providing free
schools, and requiring the attendance at these schools, of
all children who are not provided for in some other way.
108 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE CIVIL SERVICE AND THE OFFICES.
Besides the army and navy, of which the President is
commander-in-chief, the administration of the country re-
quires a large force of persons, men and women, who are
employed in the various departments of the public service
as postmasters, clerks, accountants, inspectors, and keep-
ers of supplies of every sort. These persons constitute
what is called the Civil Service. There is also a similar
civil service in every State. In the cities and towns there
is likewise a list of officials, — the police or constables, the
fire department, the men who care for the streets, and the
water supply, and many others. The public health and
safety depend on the honesty and faithfulness of the per-
sons who make up the civil service. While it is evident
that the head of any department, who is responsible for its
conduct, should be able to displace an inefficient subor-
dinate, on the other hand, a good officer ought to keep
his place as long as he remains faithful. It is therefore
injurious to the public service when a President or mayor
is able to turn out good officers, or to use the offices for
rewarding his personal or political friends. It is as though
the captain of a great steamer were to turn out good engi-
neers and firemen for the sake of giving berths to inex-
perienced relations of his own.
Civil service reform. — Many years ago great abuses
had arisen in England through the favoritism of the chief
THE CIVIL SERVICE AND THE OFFICE 109
officers of the government. No one, however faithful and
competent, could obtain a situation in government employ
unless he had a friend in office. The heads of departments
of business, like the post-office, sometimes appointed their
own relations to fill places where they drew pay without
doing work. Even in the army one had to pay money in
order to get an office. Thus the men in power used the
offices as if they were their own property instead of a
public charge. This was called patronage. It meant that
the great officers, such as the ministers of government,
were allowed to give places away for their own benefit,
or to reward services to their party, or even for money ;
whereas the places belonged to the people, to be filled by
those only who would be the most faithful public servants.
The abuse of patronage led to such evils of waste, ex-
travagance, and inefficiency, besides injustice to faithful
men, that the Parliament at last made new and strict rules
for the officers of the civil service. No official should be
displaced as long as he did his duty. New appointments
should be made on the ground of merit, and from a list of
those who had passed a satisfactory examination for the
place to be filled ; and vacancies in the higher places
should be filled so far as possible from those who had done
well in the subordinate places. Thus the rules made it
worth while for any officer to earn his promotion.
A bad civil service in America. — During the early
administrations under Washington and his successors re-
movals from office were rare. The founders of our republic
regarded the government as a public trust. But after a
while, and specially in the presidency of Jackson, the
custom came in of using the offices to reward the political
friends of the party in power. Meanwhile the number of
offices grew, till the fortune and living of many thousands
110 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
of people depended upon winning or losing a presidential
election. For each great party came to believe that,
though the officers must be paid by all the people, yet
the places and the pay belonged only to themselves. As
once in England, no faithful officer was sure of holding
his place if the other party came into power ; neither did
useful service give promise of promotion. Moreover, it
became the custom to assess office holders, and even letter-
carriers and clerks, who are really the servants of all the
people, to pay for the election expenses of their party.
Thus the party in power sought to keep power in order
to hold the patronage, rather than to carry out any serious
policy in behalf of the nation.
The office-seekers. — The representatives or senators
also came to feel that the offices in their State or district
belonged to them to give away to their friends. Thus
whenever the administration of government was changed
or a new President was elected, old and experienced
officials were turned out by wholesale that the party in
power might have the offices and the salaries for their own
men, who often had no experience. The time of the heads
of government was largely occupied in filling vacancies
from a horde of hungry and often incapable office-seekers.
A class of dangerous men arose on each side, who lost
sight of the real issues between parties as to the wise con-
duct of government, and merely plotted and struggled,
either to keep the offices, or when the other party had
captured them for a time, to recover their spoils. This
involved great waste to the nation, extravagant expendi-
ture, abuse of trust funds, as, for example, the funds held
for the Indian tribes, and an unhealthy and feverish ex-
citement over elections.
These abuses were not only in the conduct of the
THE CIVIL SERVICE AND THE OFFICES. Ill
national government, but they discovered themselves also
in every State and city. Nowhere is there greater need
of wisdom, fidelity, and experience, than in the manage-
ment of the costly business of a city. And nowhere did
patronage cause more frequent and injurious demoraliza-
tion of public employees and workmen.
How reform came. — A true reform generally commends
itself to the people as fast as they understand it. For they
do not want to be taxed uselessly or to fail of good ser-
vice. They also, like the boys on the playground, prefer
to see justice done, and do not love those who play tricks
and cheat them. When, therefore, a few patriotic men
are willing to try together to carry any needed reform,
they can usually depend upon persuading the people to
support them. Especially is this the case when men of
opposite parties will agree to let their party differences
drop, in order to secure some public good.
So in the case of civil service reform. The best men of
both parties accordingly agreed that rules ought to be
made, such as had been necessary in other great countries,
to give the civil service permanence, and to fill vacancies
in it by promotion and by fair examinations. Few men
would venture to vote against a plan so just. Suitable
rules have therefore been made, and commissioners to
enforce them have been appointed in some of the States,
as well as for the national government, with the intent
that the civil service may belong to the people, and not
merely to the managers of the party which happens to
hold the reins of power. Whereas once it often happened,
that an official could be nominated by an irresponsible
saloon-keeper, the new rules require candidates for a
place, whether of a clerk, inspector, policeman, or laborer,
to pass a just examination suited to the character of the
112 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
place, and conducted under the care of the commissioner.
No one can be appointed who does not get a reasonable
number of marks ; neither can he be removed without
What remains to be done. — The larger number of
offices in the country are still subject to the old abuses.
A good Indian agent may still be turned out to give place
to an unfit or dangerous man, who may involve a tribe in
war. Thousands of postmasters are subject to removal
every four years. The time of the President and the
representatives in Congress is wasted by office-seekers.
When the general government extends civil-service rules
to all the offices, so as to protect every faithful employee ;
when it requires the appointments of postmasters and
custom-house collectors to be made during good behavior,
and not as now for only four years; and when all the
States have established civil-service laws for the benefit of
their cities, one great source of waste and injustice will be
removed. Until this is done, certain kinds of work, which
many think that the government ought to undertake, such
as the manufacture of gas, and the control* of street-rail-
ways by cities, and the ownership of the telegraphs and
railroads by the nation, cannot even be thought of.
The consular and diplomatic service. — This is the
branch of the civil service which concerns our relations
with foreign nations. It is the custom of every civilized
nation to maintain an agent, called an Embassador, or
Minister, or Consul-General, at the capital of every friendly
nation. This agent looks out for the interests of his
government, has correspondence with the office of the
Secretary of State in Washington, and represents the rights
of his fellow-citizens abroad. It has never been the custom
of our republic to send Embassadors, the ministers of the
THE CIVIL SI2KVICE AND THE OFFICES. 113
highest rank, such as kings appoint; foreign governments
do not, therefore, send them to us.
There is, also, a consul or agent at most of the great
ports or centres of trade, where commerce brings men of
many nations together. For instance, if an American
citizen were to be unjustly arrested in Liverpool, he would
depend upon his consul for help ; or, the consul would
see that shipwrecked American sailors were cared for.
The foreign ministers, consuls, and their various clerks
make up the diplomatic service. This service needs men
of experience, conversant with the laws and customs of
the foreign nation, and able to speak its language. Such
men are generally chosen by the governments of foreign
countries, who often maintain a permanent force of trained
men to manage this business. Our own government, how-
ever, for want of a sound civil service, has often suffered
at the hands of incapable or negligent persons, ignorant
of the language of the country to which they have been
sent, who have owed their appointments in the consular
service to partisan work in helping to get votes for some
Rotation in office. — There are two ideas in vogue
about office. One idea is that it is a private perquisite or
privilege, which ought to " go around " and be shared by
as many persons as possible. Every boy in the class, for
example, ought, if possible, to have a chance as the captain
or president of the class. A new set of men should be
made selectmen every year. So the representative or
senator should not hold more than one term, or at most,
not more than two terms. Even a judge should give
place to another man. In short, the offices should be used
for the pleasure or profit of as many individual citi/
as possible. This is rotation in office. We have already
114 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
seen the harm that it may do to the civil service. The
winning of the offices becomes like a game of grab. The
ancient Greek method of choosing officers by lot would be
fairer and more decent than this.
The other and sound idea of office is to secure the best
possible sendee of the people. What the office is for, is
that the public business may be done most economically and
efficiently. With this idea the people could not afford,
if they had found a faithful officer, to let him go. If the
present board of selectmen or the school committee worked
well, they would prefer to keep them. If their senator
had learned how to conduct the public business, they
would return him to Washington, instead of sending an
inexperienced man. If the mayor was capable and dis-
interested, they would re-elect him as long as he would
serve them. This is what men do who wish their mill or
their bank to be a success. They keep a good officer as
long as he will stay. But they dismiss inefficient men,
till they find one whom they can trust.
An exception. — The office of the President, as we have
seen, has never been filled by any one for more than two
terms. This is partly on account of the example of Wash-
ington, who refused to be re-elected a third time. There
is also a sense of distrust, lest supreme power become a
means of temptation in the hands of a President who
might hope for continued re-election. Neither is the
nature of our government such that, in ordinary times,
any one man would be likely to administer its affairs bet-
ter than some other man who might be chosen.
Candidates and their place of residence. — There are
two ideas in vogue about the candidate for an office. One
idea is that he ought to be a resident in the town or city
or district that chooses him to office. It is as though men,
THE CIVIL SERVICE AND THE OFFICES. 115
being about to erect a town hall, should decide that they
must choose their architect from their own fellow-towns-
men. This is like the idea that the office is for the sake
of the individual. Men accordingly think that their town
ought to take its turn in furnishing a representative to the
legislature, or their ward of the city ought to have the
mayor. With this idea the representative to Congress
must reside in the district which elects him, even though
a much abler man, who could serve the district better,
could be found in another part of the State. Thus often a
weak man is chosen because he is a resident of the district,
who must shortly give way to another weak man, because
he lives in the other end of the district.
The opposite idea is that, since the office is not for the
man, but for the people, they wish the best and strongest
man whom they can secure. The people will chose their
fellow-citizen as architect, if he is a good architect. But
they want the best possible town hall, and they will, there-
fore, send to New York or Boston for an architect, provided
they can thus have a better building. So the people will
choose a mayor from their own ward, if he will make the
best mayor ; but if the other ward will give them a more
capable man, they will certainly choose him in preference.
Or if they can find a disinterested and patriotic man from
another part of the State to represent them in Washington,
they will take care to get the best possible service. The
law wisely allows liberty of choice within certain limits,
although the politicians have so far established the con-
trary custom. For there is no one whom the small parti-
san managers more dread than a fearless public servant
who only aims to serve the people.
116 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Viva voce. — The simplest and quickest form of voting,
used sometimes in the schoolroom, is by the voice, or viva
voce ; when those in favor of a measure say Aye or Yes,
and those opposed say Nay or No. But it sometimes hap-
pens in this case that the smaller number seem to make
more noise than the others, or the chairman may be charged
with prejudice or unfairness in declaring the vote in favor
of his own side.
The show of hands. — Another simple and more accu-
rate mode of voting is to ask each side, the ayes and the
noes in turn, to raise their right hands till they can be
counted by the clerk or secretary ; or, if the numbers are
large, by tellers ; or, since hands are not always seen, and
a dishonest person might raise both hands, each side may
be asked to rise and stand till it is counted. If a vote
of the voice is doubted by any one, it is usual to ask for
the counting of the votes. Sometimes, as in Congress, at
the wish of a fifth of the quorum, the names of the voters
are called in order so that it is known precisely how each
one votes; or, whether any are absent so as not to be
counted. In the English Parliament the ayes go over to
one side of the hall, and the noes go to the other side.
This is the division of the house.
The ballot. — Men are sometimes timid and do not like
to express their opinion openly, for fear that it may be
unpopular, or lest some unfriendly person may resent their
vote. Workmen do not always like to vote openly against
their employers. It is often, indeed, a very delicate mat-
ter to choose among a number of candidates for an office,
some of whom may be personal friends, and yet unfitted
for the place. When many officers have to be chosen at
once, it is also a matter of convenience to have their names
written or printed. The ballot is the written or printed
vote. The word means strictly a little ball, and in many
clubs or societies black balls and white are still used to
vote with ; as the Greeks used shells on certain occasions.
The ballot permits the secret expression of a voter's opin-
ion, who might not otherwise like to have his vote known.
It therefore protects timid persons and encourages them
to vote as they really think.
The ballot is not so well fitted for a representative body
like Congress, where it is desirable that every member
shall be openly responsible to the people who choose him,
and who wish, therefore, to know how he acts.
Fair election laws. — The written ballot is not enough
to secure a fair vote. Various rules are necessary, espe-
cially if there are a multitude of voters, some of whom are
ignorant, and some even dishonorable. Thus it must be
provided that no one shall vote in two places, as for exam-
ple, in two different wards of a city, and that no one shall
bring in strangers to vote.
For this purpose the names of all the qualified voters of
a town, a ward, or a district are printed beforehand on a
list. As soon as any one votes, his name is " checked off "
the list. It is necessary also that the ballots shall be care-
fully prepared; for example, if Mr. James S. Smith is the
candidate, the name John Smith should not be printed
instead ; else the votes could not fairly be counted.
118 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Candidates have often spent a great deal of money to be
elected, and have paid their agents to put their own ballots
into men's hands, or to try to persuade voters to change
their votes at the polls or voting-place, and even worse,
have sometimes bribed dishonest and careless citizens to
give their vote for a present, a ride, a drink, a dinner, or
money. Men have also been employed at the polls to
watch the ballots and spy out what kind of vote each voter
put into the box. Sometimes the officers in charge of the
election have been false to their trust, and permitted fraud
at the polls, and have contrived to count the votes wrong.
Many laws have therefore been passed to protect the
elections. For it is evident that if cheating at elections
were permitted, or if any considerable number of citizens
were willing either to cheat or to be bribed, popular gov-
ernment would become a farce.
The Australian ballot. — The fairest of the election
laws is based upon methods alreadj r tried in England and
Australia. It secures for each voter the privacy of a little
stall or closet in preparing his ballot, as well as secrecy in
voting. It also provides the votes at the expense of the
government, so that no candidate or party can have excuse
for spending money in an election, except for the perfectly
proper purpose of holding meetings and informing the
public. It allows any reasonable number of citizens to
name candidates, besides the candidates of the great par-
ties. It prints all the names on one ticket, so that the
voter can choose freely for himself. The voter marks a
cross (X) against the names which he chooses.
The elections. — The great election for President comes
at a fixed time in November, once in four years. The
elections for members of Congress in each district come
once in two years. So with many of the State govern-
ments. Local elections, as of town officers, are apt to
come once a year. Special elections of any sort must be
appointed with due public notice, so that no one need to
lose his right to be present and vote. In towns or coun-
ties voters meet in a common place. No one can send his
vote by the hand of another. In cities, for convenience,
there are many voting-places, and the great mass of the
citizens never meet at the polls. There are various special
election officers who serve at the polls, or take charge of
the ballots and count them. They must be fair and intel-
ligent, or else wrong will be done and the votes falsely
counted. They are paid for their services. In a national
election these officers, numbering many thousands, are paid
by the United States.
Majority and plurality. — In some cases the law re-
quires a majority to elect, that is, more than half of the
votes cast. It is unfortunate that any important officer
should be elected without the wish of at least half of the
electors. In many cases, however, the candidate may be
elected by a plurality of votes, that is, by more than any
one else has, although the number who wish his election
are not half of all the voters. When several candidates
are in the field for the same office, this rule sometimes
allows the election of a very insignificant man. On the
other hand, it saves the trouble of repeating an election
in order to secure a majority.
Who may vote. — In general, all the men twenty-one
years of age may exercise the suffrage or the right to vote.
But a foreigner must be naturalized, that is, take out
certain papers showing that he will henceforth be an
American citizen. One must also have been a resident
in the country for a certain period, and also in the State,
as well as in the town where he wishes to vote. Other-
120 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
wise, one might travel at election times, and vote in two
or more States. Or a stranger might vote before he under-
stood the questions upon which he was voting. The laws
of the States differ about the conditions of voting. Most
of them do not yet require the voter to be able to read
and write. Others allow newcomers to vote on a very
short residence. Whoever is recognized as a citizen to
vote at a State election can also vote in the same State
at a national election. But no one can vote in two places;
even though a man owns a mill in Lowell, and pays a
large tax, he can have no vote to decide how the money of
Lowell shall be expended, unless he resides there.
Property suffrage and manhood suffrage. — That all
men, wherever they are born, should have equal rights in
the government under which they live, is a new idea in
the world. For men of foreign birth used to be treated
with suspicion, as outsiders. It was also thought that a
man ought to have property in order to be a citizen.
Many of our States once had laws requiring that a man
should own a certain amount of property to entitle him
to be a full citizen. There are those who still hold
that, especially in town or city affairs, no man should
be allowed to vote, at least on questions concerning prop-
erty, or for the expenditure of money, except property-
holders. But the prevailing American idea is, that every
man has a stake or interest in the government; since
every man, however poor, directly or indirectly helps pay
the taxes, and is oppressed if the government is waste-
ful or extravagant. The American idea, therefore, is to
trust every man to do his duty by the government, since
a man, whether rich or poor, is a man still. The State
does not fear the votes of men who are poor, but it fears
the votes of dishonest or ignorant men.
Woman suffrage. — In barbarous or warlike times it
was neither customary nor safe for women to come to
public meetings of any sort. The business of government,
as of war, was thought to be the affair of the men. Customs
of such a sort are slow to change. It was therefore taken
for granted, when our government was formed, that women
were citizens to be protected, and to pay taxes, but not
citizens to vote, or to bear arms. Meanwhile, with grow-
ing civilization, great changes have taken place in the
purposes of government. As we have seen, government
has come to be for many other peaceful ends besides
defence against enemies. A large part of the functions of
government interest all intelligent women as much as
they interest men. For schools, for the public morals, for
pure and patriotic officers, men and women are equally
concerned. In matters of local expense, in towns and
cities, women often pay large taxes. Many women, indeed,
through the death of the husband or father, have the
responsibility of a family. Moreover, the customs of a
civilized country now permit men and women to go every-
where in public together. Many, therefore, see no valid
reason why women should not exercise the suffrage equally
with men. In England this is now allowed in the case of
women owning property. Some steps have been taken
towards it in the United States. It is at present one of
the open questions upon which good women as well as
men are divided. For some say that it will do no good
for women to vote, that it will only double the number of
voters, and that if ignorant women vote, it will do harm ;
besides, good women have great influence now without
voting. But others reply that it is right, and, if so,
that it cannot do harm. Moreover, it educates citizens to
put responsibility upon them.
122 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The purpose of voting. — The vote is the exercise of
a right ; for it is not fair for the government to require the
obedience or the support of any of its people without their
consent or advice. If, then, a part of the people voted
and the rest were obliged to obey, it would be a tyranny.
The vote is thus a means of defence and protection. But
the vote is not merely for the individual. It is also for
the sake of the State. Thus, if on any question the vote
Yes seemed to be good for the voter, but the vote No
seemed to be best for all, he certainly ought to vote No.
Or, again, if it were against the public interest that ignorant
persons should vote until they could learn to read, it would
be the duty of such persons to wait till they could really
help the public by an intelligent vote ; precisely as it is
fair, on the whole, that children, however intelligent,
should wait till they have grown up before they are given
So, too, if it were true, on the whole, that it would not be
for the good of the State for women to vote, it would be
unfair for individual women to claim the right, merely for
themselves, aside from the good of all. In fact, a " right "
which is not good for all, is not likely to be good, or a real
right, for any one. Those, therefore, who claim that it is
time to give the suffrage to women endeavor to show that
the change promises to be for the public good, and is a step
towards the higher civilization of the people.
POLITICAL PABTUBS. 123
Debate and discussion. — Men rarely work together for
any time before honest differences arise as to the best
methods of doing their work. It is so when men undertake
the duties of government. There are such differences of
opinion at the town meeting. Some want to expend more
money for schools or for roads, while others think that the
taxes are too high already. Some may want to borrow for
the new expenditures, and others think that the town
should live within its income, and "pay as it goes/' like a
wise householder. It generally happens that many of the
citizens are not fully informed upon the questions that
arise, or they know only one side, and have not yet heard
the reasons to be given on the opposite side. It is there-
fore fair, before the vote is taken, to give opportunity for
any who choose, to inform others why they deem one or the
other course best. This is debate, or the discussion of the
question to be decided. The more important the subject,
the more needful it is to give ample time for discussion.
For it is neither intelligent nor fair to vote without know-
ing the reasons on both sides ; nor to defeat any proposed
measure which others offer, without giving them the chance
to explain fully why their measure ought to pass.
The purpose of debate. — It is thought by some that
the purpose of debate is in order to get the victory for
one's own side or party. On the contrary, the true object
124 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
of all discussion is that the people may have the fullest
understanding of the merits of the question. If a course
of action — the building a new bridge or schoolhouse —
cannot really be shown to be best, no good citizen wishes
to urge it ; as, when boys discuss how they shall spend a
holiday, the object is not that any one shall have his own
way, but that the whole company shall see which plan
will give them the most pleasure. While it is fair, there-
fore, to try to persuade the others, it is not fair to be
unwilling to be persuaded, in case the others' arguments
are better. It is fair to give others as candid and respect-
ful a hearing as we wish them to give us.
The broad or narrow view of public questions. — Some-
times in town meeting there is a plea for a road in an-
other part of the town. A narrow or selfish view will
oppose the expense, because it does not seem to benefit
one's own district. Or men from the other end of the
town refuse to vote for the new road, unless the town will
vote an equal sum, and perhaps build an unnecessary
road in their own neighborhood. But the true question
that a broad-minded man asks is, whether the proposed
road is desirable for the public good, in whatever part of
the town it is. For if it will make one part of the town
more prosperous or accessible, in the long run it will be
good for the whole town.
Rules of debate. — In order to secure perfect fairness to
all, there must be certain rules of discussion. For here, as
everywhere else, order serves the comfort and convenience
of all ; and through the seeming sacrifice of a little liberty
by each, all have the greater liberty. We have seen in
Chapter IV. that there must be a president or chairman,
whom every one agrees to obey, and who enforces the rules.
There must be a secretary who keeps account of what is
POLITICAL PARTIES. 125
done. The rules will not permit any one to take an undue
share of the time, or to speak too often. The rules allow
only one to speak at a time. They also prescribe how, after
discussion has gone far enough, it may be brought to an
end, and the real business not delayed. It is an abuse if
the rules are managed by any one or by a clique to obstruct
business, or to obtain unfair advantage over the opposite
party, or to silence a speaker. This is sometimes called
filibustering. It is in debate what fighting would be on
the playground ; in which case arms and strength are with-
drawn from their real use, — namely, to win honorable
victory, — and are made to do harm instead.
National parties. — In the government of towns and
cities the questions that divide the citizens are constantly
shifting. There is, therefore, no good reason why parties
should be permanent ; but men who vote together on one
subject will often differ upon another. So in the State
government the chief things that any good citizen want 5
are wisdom, honesty, and economy. To a large extent this
should be the same in the national government. Subjects
and questions are constantly changing ; men who unite for
one course of action, as the conduct of the Indian depart-
ment or civil service reform, differ upon another subject ;
as, for example, the voting of national aid to the public
schools. There are, however, generally certain great sub-
jects so difficult to settle, and needing so much time to be
fairly discussed, that men divide upon them into national
parties. For example, the question of the proper policy
of the government in the treatment of slavery divided
men into great parties. The question of the tariff, or
how far it is wise to tax goods, wool, lumber, iron, clothes,
etc., imported from foreign countries, is one of these
national questions. New questions of this sort may arise
126 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
from time to time which occasion the drawing of new
party lines; or, again, great questions which agitate the
whole people may not for a time appear, in which case
the old parties struggle mainly to see which shall have the
government and the offices. Each party then claims to be
wiser and purer than the other.
There is no reason why there should be two parties only.
There have often been two or three, or even more. But
since it requires a majority of votes to secure the govern-
ment, a small national party cannot permanently accomplish
much, except by getting the balance of power, and thus
influencing the larger parties.
Party organization. — It is the chief object of the
national parties to get control of the government by the
election of the President and a majority of Congress, so as
to be able to carry out their policy. The great parties,
being obliged to discuss and persuade voters, and, if suc-
cessful, to determine what ought to be done, are in the
habit of organizing throughout the country. In every
town and State the citizens who belong to a particular
party hold meetings called Caucuses and Conventions, in
which they appoint their party officers and choose their
candidates to be voted for at the next election, and pass
" resolutions," or statements of what they think should be
done. And since men become accustomed to working in
party ranks for the great national elections, for example, as
Republicans or Democrats, they are apt to vote largely on
the same lines and with the same party organizations in
State or municipal elections. Thus, although there is no
good reason why Republicans or Democrats should not
unite in choosing the same candidate for mayor or alder-
man, provided he will make an honest and efficient officer,
as they would unite in choosing the best man as superin-
POLITICAL PARTIES. 127
tenclent of a railroad, yet they often prefer to vote with
their party for a less capable man rather than to elect a good
man of the opposite party. The more ignorant voters are,
the more likely they will be to vote without thinking,
merely as their party leaders bid them. The watchword
of such voters is, " My party, right or wrong."
Independents. — Among men, as in the schoolroom,
there are always some who ask questions and want to know
the reason of things. As on the playground, some do not
care always to go with the crowd, or even prefer to be by
themselves. Such as these, who think for themselves, and
dare to stand alone, make the independents in politics.
Sometimes they are wrong-headed, or unsympathetic, or
unsocial. They may make mistakes, as the wisest men
sometimes do. But it is important to have independent
men in every community. They are likely to prefer the
good of their country to the success of their party. They
will not act with their party, or will leave it, if it is wrong.
If the other party changes, as parties sometimes change,
and advocates measures that they believe in ; if they change
their own minds as sensible men sometimes must ; or if the
other party puts forward better candidates; or if a new
party arises, the independent voters are willing to act wher-
ever they believe that they can best secure the public wel-
fare. They therefore help to keep the great parties right.
It will be observed, however, that in a great country
with millions of voters, no individual can effect much with
his vote unless he joins somewhere with others who think
with him. And although a few patriotic men, if banded
together like the old Greek phalanx, may form a new
party, or change the direction of the old party, or hold the
balance of power between parties and accomplish a reform,
yet the man who stands by himself and only finds fault or
votes alone, is in danger of throwing his vote away.
128 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
GOVERNMENT BY COMMITTEES, BY POLITICIANS,
BY PUBLIC OPINION.
The work of committees. — In a large body like Con-
gress or a State legislature it is difficult for every member
to understand fully the merits of the many different
subjects which have to be considered. It is therefore
customary to appoint a number of committees, each con-
sisting of a few members. Thus there will be a committee
of Congress upon foreign relations, and another committee
upon the Territories or the Indian tribes. In the city
government likewise there will be a committee upon
the police and another upon streets. Though the advice of
committees need not be followed, it has great weight, both
in making laws and in the appointment and the conduct of
important officers. For example, the committee upon rail-
ways may further or thwart legislation affecting the value
of millions of dollars and multitudes of people. Or, the
committee upon streets may entertain or reject extravagant
appropriations of public money. A committee may help or
hinder an honest and efficient mayor or governor. Thus
the power of committees for good or evil is enormous.
A grave difficulty. — When a single official is made
responsible for any business, the citizens know whom to
praise or blame. But when a number of men do a foolish
or wrong thing together, it is difficult to fix the blame on
the proper persons. Besides, in Congress or a legislature
GOVERNMENT BY COMMITTEES. 129
the newspapers report what is said, as well as the vote of
every member, but the action of a committee is compara-
tively private, so that praise or blame cannot be rightly
awarded by the people.
An example. — A bill in the interest of some great rail-
way is brought before Congress by a member, who is the
friend of the president of the railway. The bill is referred
to the committee upon railroads. The railway president
has another friend in this committee, who is able to per-
suade the members of the committee to report as he
desires. The members of Congress, having left the sub-
ject to their committee, are prepared to vote as the com-
mittee recommends, especially if the advocates of the bill
are of the party in power. Thus a bill possibly unwise, or
even unjust, may be carried through Congress upon the
report of a small committee.
However seriously the action proposed by the com-
mittees may injure the public interests, for example, the
administration of the post-office department, custom does
not allow the Postmaster-General, or any of the fteads of
departments, to come upon the floor of Congress and
explain the difficulty. In fact, a bare majority of a com-
mittee, provided it is of the party in power, may recom-
mend important action, which the same party will vote
to carry through, while the officer who has the responsi-
bility for executing the law may not even be consulted.
This is government by committees instead of government
by the people.
The appointment of committees. — Each branch of a
legislature or of a city government chooses its own com-
mittees. A common method is to allow the chairman or
president to "nominate" or select the members of tl
committees as lie deems suitable. As the chairman is the
130 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
choice of the majority of the body, he will be pretty sure
to see that the committees are made up as the majority
would approve. It is deemed fair always to appoint part
of the members of the committees from the minority.
The committees of Congress, through whose hands all
business passes, are chosen, in the Senate by its own mem-
bers, that is, by the party who hold the majority, who put
their own men at the head of each committee ; and in the
House of Representatives by the Speaker or Chairman.
If the Speaker is a Republican or a Democrat, he therefore
chooses so that the head of every important committee
and the majority of its members shall be from his own
party. This right to appoint committees makes the
Speaker by far the most powerful man in Congress. He
may appoint committees which shall thwart the will and
defeat the purposes of the President.
The politicians. — The great number of the people have
little time to spend in politics, that is, in the management of
government. Beyond voting and occasionally attending a
caucus or mass meeting to hear speeches, they are very apt
to leave public business in the hands of a few persons.
There comes, therefore, to be a class of men in every com-
munity who mostly manage the politics. They attend all
the caucuses ; they are put upon the party committees ; they
are chosen to go to the great state or national conven-
tions which nominate candidates for office ; they are ready
and willing to take office themselves. They bring out
their neighbors and friends to vote at elections, and work
for their party. They are apt to think that they have
earned the right to its honors and places if their party
gets into power. Such men, who make politics their busi-
ness, are called politicians. The name is given specially
to those who make use of politics to serve or advance their
GOVERNMENT BY COMMITTEES. 131
own private interests. It is not usually given to those
whose interest in public business is for the sake of the
public welfare, and who do not seek place or office for
themselves. The name, therefore, while it has not a posi-
tively bad meaning, is not one by which the most public-
spirited men would choose to be called. The word states-
man better describes the higher class of wise and faithful
Government by the politicians. — The politicians of
any party make a strong organization among themselves,
like the staff of an army. They meet often in committees
and clubs. They know what they wish to secure for them-
selves through the aid of the government, while the people
are often indifferent. They are able to bargain with each
other, and to combine to carry out plans. They can usually
contrive to nominate candidates of their own number.
They can even trade votes with the opposite party, promis-
ing, if they are Republicans, to help elect a Democratic
politician to some office, in exchange for help in electing
one of themselves to another office, or vice versa. If they
are chosen to Congress, or even to the highest office, they
may be under obligation or promise to serve some of their
fellow-politicians who helped to elect them, and to get
places for them.
Wherever, therefore, men manage the public business for
themselves or for their party friends, and nominate candi-
dates, or appoint officers, or carry votes to serve each other,
it becomes a government by the politicians.
Rings. — It may happen in a republic as in an aristo-
cratic government, that a clique of men contrive to get the
affairs of a city or a state, or even of the national govern-
ment into their own hands. It was in this way that the
notorious Tweed ring usurped the government of the city
132 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
of New York. They managed the party caucuses, and named
themselves and their friends for office, and brought igno-
rant or indifferent voters to do their bidding at the polls.
Public opinion. — The wisest man or the most wealthy
has but one vote. But his vote is not the only way in
which he helps to govern. What he thinks, what he says,
what he does, influences others. As one student in a school
may persuade a dozen others to act as he acts, so a man
of positive opinion may be a leader for hundreds of voters.
As one persuades another or sets another to thinking, and
so moves men's minds, who again, like ivory balls, move
others in the same way, public opinion is made. One, or a
few, wise, thoughtful, or public-spirited men may start
public opinion ; but once started, a multitude by and by
take it up. Public opinion is behind votes, for votes only
express it. But it is often stronger and quicker than votes.
It is not in human nature to wish to resist or oppose
public opinion. It requires a brave man to stand against
it, even when it is wrong or mistaken. Public opinion is
therefore a check against abuses of the government. A
committee of Congress, however negligent of the public
interest, will not venture far to do what the people really
disapprove. When public opinion is aroused to require
honest public service, no corrupt ring can stand. Even a
little stream of sound public opinion, directed by a few
brave citizens, and expressed, by voice and helped on by
the press, when aimed towards a reform or against an abuse,
makes itself speedily felt, so that the politicians them-
selves hasten to heed it ; as a hunger or a pain in the body,
telegraphed through the appropriate nerves, urges the will
of a man to satisfy its need. Thus, if at any time, through
faults in the government or the practices of negligent
officers, harm is done, a remedy is at hand when public
opinion is sufficiently stirred.
THE CITIZEN'S DUTIES TO HIS GOVERNMENT. 133
THE CITIZEN'S DUTIES TO HIS GOVERNMENT.
We have seen how numerous and important the ser-
vices are which the government renders to its citizens. It
extends its protection over their lives and property ; it pro-
vides courts of justice, schools, and education ; it maintains
roads and carries the mails ; it brings water and extin-
guishes fires ; it guards the public health and cleanses the
streets; it supports public hospitals. All these things, and
more, are done by the government for its citizens. It
would plainly be unfair that citizens should enjoy these
benefits without making any return. There are several
simple duties, therefore, which the citizens owe to the
Obeying the laws. — In every civilized state there are
definite laws. Some of them are very old, and no one
knows when they were first made ; others have been de-
creed by the government of the city, the state, or the
nation, by the legislature, the Congress, the Parliament,
or the king. They treat of all sorts of subjects, — of
property, of commerce, of behavior. Some of the laws,
and generally the oldest of all, are such as appeal to
every one's conscience, such as we learn in our childhood ;
as, for example, not to steal or to injure another. We
should obey these moral laws, if no courts threatened to
enforce them. There are many other rules, ordinances,
and laws, however, which have been found by experience
134 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
to be necessary, or which serve the common convenience.
Thus, the laws may require children to attend school,
because no state can afford to let its youth grow up in
Sometimes a law may seem to the individual citizen
unnecessary or trivial, or may prove inconvenient. Never-
theless, no one has any right to put his personal preference
or convenience before the laws which serve the public
good. For example, in cities it is necessary to forbid the
use of firearms, although a discreet or skilful person might
carry a gun or pistol without injury. Employers are also
liable to a fine for hiring boys or girls who ought to be in
school, although sometimes their- parents seem to need the
money which the children might earn. If any business,
however profitable, like making gunpowder or selling
drugs, proves to be harmful or dangerous, the law may
forbid or restrict it, to the inconvenience or even the loss
of its owner. In all such cases the individual must submit
to the laws. For it would be unjust to wish to indulge
oneself, or to make money by any practice or business
which either hurt or imperilled the public good ; precisely
as it would be unfair for a boy to throw stones upon the
ball-ground where his fellows were playing.
The care of public property. — If we belonged to a base-
ball or cricket club, every member of the club would try
to take good care of the balls, bats, and wickets. For
whatever waste or loss there were would have to come out
of our spending-money. So in any home, no intelligent
child would wish to break the furniture or waste the pro-
visions, since the whole family would be poorer for every
[dollar thrown away. The same rule holds with the public
property. All that belongs to the government really
belongs to us all, like the furniture or the provisions of a
THE CITIZEN'S DUTIES TO BIS GOVERNMENT. 135
great family. In the public buildings, the sclioolhouses
and the school-books, the fire-engines, and the machinery
of all the different departments of public work, the high-
ways, the lamps and lamp-posts, as well as the forts and
navy yards, and iron ships, and lighthouses, — in all these
things which have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, we
each have a share. It is as if every child was born heir
to a fortune. No one is so poor as not to be better off for
this grand public property. To waste or injure or deface
or destroy anything that belongs to the government, there-
fore, is to injure ourselves. To break the glass in a public
building would be the same kind of foolishness as to break
glass in our own house.
We do not merely owe the government, that is, our-
selves, the duty to do no injury to our own public property.
We owe a positive duty to watch against harm or waste.
If the treasurer of a club wasted the money, or the keeper
of the bats and wickets left them in the rain, we should
turn him out of office. So likewise, if we saw any officer
wasteful of the public money, or careless in performing his
work. Especially if we were ever hired by the govern-
ment, we should be ashamed not to do as honest service
as we should do for ourselves, since our work in such a
case is really for the common good.
The duty to vote. — We have already seen that it is a
right or privilege to vote, so that any one would feel
defrauded if his vote were taken away from him, or if it
failed to be counted. But it is also a duty to vote. In
other words, we are not asked to vote for our own sake, to
protect our rights or our property, but for the good of the
public and because the ballot is the weapon to protect the
rights of all. As in a club we must vote at the election
of officers in order to secure good management, so every
136 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
citizen is responsible through his vote for the kind of gov-
ernment that he lives under. There is an old rule that
" Silence gives consent." If, then, a set of bad or worth-
less men should plot to get the offices, all the citizens who
took no trouble to vote against them would help the bad
party into power and would also be to blame for the harm
Suppose, again, that the people were asked to vote Yes
or No upon some proposed change in the constitution of the
State, for example, a prohibitory amendment, forbidding
the sale of intoxicating drinks ; and suppose that many
thousands did not vote at all. Whichever way the vote
of the State went, those who did not vote would be to
blame if harm came. For they did nothing to prevent it.
The duty to pay the taxes. — We have seen that the
taxes under just government ought not to make people
poorer. They are like money taken out of the pocket of
the individual to put into the common purse, and by and
by to expend for the common good ; as when a party of
boys contribute together to purchase a foot-ball or a boat
which no one of them alone could have afforded. So all
the people of a city contribute to build good roads and to
buy fire-engines, or to provide waterworks. It is every
one's duty, then, to pay his share. For it would be ex-
tremely shabby to be willing to enjoy the advantages that
the government gave without paying one's share towards
The government may expend money for something that
a citizen does not care for ; as for a school when the citi-
zen has no children of his own, or sends his children to
a private school. Nevertheless, since the schools are for
the public good, and the country is more prosperous and
the government "safer by reason of them, whoever shares
THE CITIZEN'S DUTIES TO HIS GOVERNMENT. 137
in the prosperity and safety that the schools help to bring,
ought not to shirk paying the cost with the others.
It may happen that some citizen does not see the value
of the public schools, or does not believe in building forts
and war-ships; ought he to be obliged to help pay for what
he does not believe in ? It would be fair, indeed, for him
to vote, when he has a chance, against the forts and war-
ships, but if the majority is against him and the taxes
arc levied, it would be disgraceful to try to make others
pay more than their share, in order to escape himself ; as
he in turn would think it unjust in the others to refuse to
pay their taxes towards the objects, like roads and parks,
which he believes in ; precisely as in a society, as long as
one belongs to it, one must pay the assessments as the
It has often happened that men have avoided their taxes
and even lied about their property, on the ground that
" others do the same." This is a good reason why honest
citizens should have the tax laws made simple, and require
them to be fairly administered. If any method of raising
the taxes tempts men of weak conscience to cheat, it is
probably a bad method. But since " two wrongs do not
make a right," there can be no excuse for any one to shirk,
much less to deceive, and therefore to throw a heavier
burden on honest persons, because some one else is unfair.
Indeed, it is a good rule everywhere to do yourself as you
would wish all to do.
The truth is that, if one part of the citizens are expected
to pay their share of the taxes towards objects which are
good for another portion, — if the Western farmers must
pay for the lighthouses for the sailors, these in turn must
pay cheerfully their share towards other objects, like the
levees on the Mississippi River. If, meanwhile, some citi-
138 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
zens seem to themselves to pay more than their share, yet
every one is better off than if there were no government
and no taxes to pay.
The duty of public service. — It is an ancient require-
ment that every able-bodied citizen must bear arms in case
of war. This diury extends so far as to demand the citi-
zen's life if it is needful to help save the state. For it
is better that a part of the citizens should die, than that
the state should be destroyed or enslaved. As a good
father or a good son therefore would risk his life for the
sake of the family, so a loyal citizen holds his life at the
call of the government.
It may happen that the government makes a mistake
and exposes the citizen's life without cause. Should he
disobey, shirk his duty, or run away in order to save his
life ? It is evident that, in case of public danger, a riot or
a war, there must be very prompt obedience to the sum-
mons of the sheriff, the marshal, or the governor. If no
citizen would risk his life for his country until he was first
made perfectly sure that the government was quite wise,
there would be no reliance on any one. The rule is, then,
that the citizen must share the risks of his country or his
government, even though at times some one has blundered.
For it is nobler to lose one's life, like the soldiers at
Balaklava, in trying to save the honor of the country,
than to be too prudent in trying to save one's own life.
The duty sometimes to take office. — The public ser-
vice is not only for times of war or danger. The state also
claims of the citizen many forms of peaceful service.
There are many offices which suffer, unless filled by able
and patriotic men. Moreover, the office frequently carries
no pay, as with the school committee and many town and
city offices. .Or, as in the case of jurors, the pay is small
THE CITIZEN'S DUTIES TO HIS GOVERNMENT. 139
and the trouble is great. Or, as with the State legisla-
tures, the duties of the office are tedious to many citizens.
The faithful officer is also liable to partisan abuse, and
in some cases to the loss of his place at the hands of
those who want it for themselves. There are therefore
many citizens who, for various reasons, do not desire office,
or cannot, they think, afford to give up lucrative business
of their own even to go to Congress, or to be made a
judge or mayor, or a governor, much less to serve with-
out pay on some public commission. But the state needs
most the very men who desire office least, and who have
no selfish ends to seek by taking it. Since the state can
command even the citizen's life, it seems to follow that
he ought equally to give up his time when called to take
office for the public good.
Public spirit. — In almost every community there are
certain men and women who are known as public spirited.
Others may be selfish or narrow-minded, and vote or act
as their own private interests seem to require. But the
public-spirited citizens take broad and generous views,
and even prefer the good of the state or the nation to
their own profit. Thus in the Civil War, while a narrow-
minded man feared about his business, or waited until
bounties were paid before he enlisted, public-spirited men
cheerfully risked their persons and property for the sup-
port of the government. The public-spirited are equally
willing to be taxed for libraries and parks to benefit the
people. In other words, they not only perform their
duties to the state with honesty, but they take pleasure in
serving the public, and are liberal beyond the requirement
of the law.
Exceptions. — It is possible that a government might
require of a citizen what his conscience forbade. Thus
140 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
the laws of the United States once commanded the return
of fugitive slaves to their masters. This is like the case
where a wrong or foolish parent commands a child to act
against his conscience. But though one must certainly
obey his conscience, yet if he breaks a bad or foolish law,
he must be prepared to take the legal consequences of dis-
obedience, perhaps to go to jail, or to pay a fine ; or, even
to lose his life, as in the story of Socrates or of Sir Thomas
More. Moreover, the individual who ventures to break a
law on his own judgment may prove to have been wrong,
and his conscience to have been unenlightened. We can
imagine a fanatical Mormon, for example, who prefers to
obey the command of his church, and to resist the United
States government in Utah.
Although it is the general duty of the citizen to vote,
there may be cases in which one cannot conscientiously
vote. The voter might have to choose between two meas-
ures, both of which seem wrong, or between two candi-
dates, both of whom are unfit for the place. It cannot
be duty to do a wrong, or to tell a lie, by one's vote,
or to seem to approve what one does not honestly wish
for. Thus if two political parties appear for the time to
further wrong policies, or to put up bad men, one may
have to withdraw from voting with either of them until
one or the other party changes its character, or until he
can join others in forming a new party. But it would
not be right to abstain from voting longer than is abso-
lutely necessary. As before, one must do what he wishes
every one else to do ; but while he would wish every one
to abstain from voting for a bad or unfit man, he would
not wish others to be content till the government was set
right and in good hands.
THE CITIZEN'S DUTIES TO HIS GOVERNMENT. 141
At the time of the War 01 Independence our forefathers
complained that it was unjust to pay taxes to England
without being represented in the British Parliament, which
made the taxes. Their refusal to pay the stamp tax led to
the war. In this case, however, the colonists had no peace-
ful means of opposing the odious tax except to petition
the Parliament. In our government, if an unjust tax were
imposed, we have the courts to redress wrong. We can
also vote for representatives who would take measures to
change a wrongful tax.
It has sometimes happened that a public officer has been
required to perform duties against his conscience. Thus a
marshal of the United States would once have had to arrest
a fugitive slave. There would therefore be no obligation
to take public office, if the laws require wrongful conduct.
So if an army officer, who must obey orders as long as he
holds command, believed any war to be unjust, he could
resign, as Granville Sharp, the friend of America, gave up
his place in the Ordnance Office of England because he
could not conscientiously handle war material to be used
against the American colonies.
142 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE ABUSES AND PERILS OF GOVERNMENT.
Abuses that the civilized world has outgrown. — As
long as men tolerated the rule of the strong, and suffered
bad men to hold power, government was often made the
engine of cruel injustice. Kings came to imagine that the
people existed to serve them or to fight for them. In
Turkey and Egypt the peasants still have to pay for the
luxury of the great court of the Sultan and the Khedive,
and for the support of a crowd of idle officers. Even in
England, till quite lately, a Roman Catholic or a Unitarian
was forbidden to hold office on account of his opinions.
A little further back, bigoted men thought it right to use
the arm of the law to enforce their opinions or religion
on others, or to prosecute those who differed from them.
There were terrible punishments imposed by the colonial
laws, and very cruel treatment of the poor and the insane
was permitted. The power of government was used to
hang men and women at Salem for the supposed crime
Meddling with business. — Governments have been in
the habit, too, of interfering with trade, with the prices of
goods, or with the values of money. A dishonest king
would issue coin of diminished weight or purity. It is said
that between the years 1300 and 1600 the English pound
of silver, which at first made twenty shillings, was at last
divided into sixty-six shillings. The early Parliaments
THE ABUSES AND PERILS OF GOVERNMENT. 143
were often very ignorant. They thought it necessary to
make laws to keep the money in their own country. They
made it hard to sell goods out of their country, or to get
foreign goods in return ; they did not see that trade made
nations richer. They imagined that they could fix prices
for wheat or bread, or for a day's wages, by law ; they did
not understand that though the law can fix a low price for
a thing, the law cannot compel any one to sell it for that
Governments are like the people who govern. — The
truth is that the government always reflects the character
of the men who rule. If they are stupid or ignorant,
they will be sure to make foolish and injurious laws. If
they are wasteful, they will contrive to squander the pub-
lic money. If they are narrow and prejudiced, they will
not mind hurting those who differ from themselves. If
some of them are bad and dishonest, they will be sure
to cheat in managing the government. If they are greedy,
or think that the government is for every one to get as
much as he can for himself, instead of being for the public
good, they will make it selfish and oppressive. Thus the
abuses and perils of government proceed from the faults of
the rulers even more than from the faults of the system
or method. This is equally true if the government is by
the people. For while it rests with the few, it is good
or bad like the few that hold it, but when it rests with
all the people, it cannot easily be much better than the
average character of the people. If many of the people
of a republic, then, are ignorant, as kings used to be, if
others are prejudiced, and some are bad and dishonest, it
will be very hard not to have officers and representatives
like the people who choose them.
It is as though a party of boys from one of the school
144 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
ships were cast on a desolate island and undertook to
manage and govern themselves. If they were ignorant
and selfish, they would be in great danger of destruction ;
but in case the majority of them were generous and intelli-
gent, they might contrive to establish a little state, till
they could build a boat or be taken off the island.
The best government. — The faults of the rulers will
show themselves, and make trouble in any kind of govern-
ment ; but some modes of government make men's faults
more perilous. We may suppose that the boys on the
island allow the greediest fellow among them to keep the
supplies. This would tempt him to help himself to more
than his share. Or they might let the loudest talkers
among them make all their plans, as men often do in gov-
ernment. They might, on the other hand, contrive to pick
out the most trustworthy and intelligent of their number
to take charge of the supplies and to make plans of escape,
so as to secure a management even better than their own
average ; as though the body were to choose the brains
and the conscience to determine what the muscles and
bones should do. So we can perhaps contrive methods of
government that, instead of tempting the weak, dishonest,
and selfish to become worse, shall make use of the wisdom
and integrity of the best and most capable citizens. We
need now to see where the chief dangers lie in our Ameri-
Faults of American government ; partisanship. —
Men, in a mistaken sense of loyalty, will often follow
their party to vote wrong, or to choose unworthy men
against the plain interests of the public. It is particularly
harmful in Congress, or in the legislature, when members
who are paid to consult the public good think themselves
bound instead to serve their party. For designing men,
THE ABUSES AND PERILS OF GOVERNMENT. 145
by gaining a majority in a party caucus, or a party com-
mittee, finally oblige the whole party to carry their bad
Provincialism. — This word, which comes from the
simple word province, means local patriotism as opposed
to the love of the whole country. Thus a man cares more
for his village than for the good of the State, or more
for his State than he cares for the nation. Provincialism
is a form of seliislmess. It was this which brought on the
great Civil War. For men were once trained to be more
loyal to the flag of their State than to the flag of the Union.
It is the same spirit that wishes the prosperity of a section,
as the North or the West or the South, instead of the wel-
fare of all sections. It is the same, in a smaller way, when
one votes against a man from another part of the State,
and insists upon voting for a neighbor, or for some one of
the same church, when the stranger is the better man.
Jobbery and patronage. — It is evident that if public
work is to be done, as in the case of erecting a new school-
house, an equal chance ought to be given to architects and
builders to offer plans and make bids for the work, so that
the city shall secure the best and cheapest building. Sup-
pose now, that, instead of trying to choose the best builder,
the committee in charge should award their contract to
the builder who would make them a present, or do them
personal favors, or promise to buy his materials of them.
This would be jobbery. The committee would be turning
the public service into means of private gain.
It is evident also that if the government wants a num-
ber of laborers or clerks for the navy yard, all capable
citizens ought to have a free and equal chance to offer
themselves, and that the selection should be made of the
most competent. But suppose the ullicer in charge tilled
146 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
the places with his personal friends, or with those who
voted for him, or, as he was bidden by some congressman,
with persons of his party alone. This is the misuse of
patronage. It is unfair to the public, because it often puts
unfit persons into office and keeps them there ; and it is
undemocratic, because it does not give equal chance to all
who are deserving. It is to guard against the evils of job-
bery and patronage that we require a pure civil service.
The government and trade. — It often happens that a
business threatens harm to the public, as when the facto-
ries employ children too young to work. The railroads
may seem to charge excessive rates of fare. The interest
of money may appear to be extortionate. Manufacturers
or miners wish laws passed to help their business, or to
prevent foreigners from selling goods cheaper than the
American goods. Workmen may wish foreigners to be
prevented from coming here, or they desire by law to fix
wages, or the number of hours of the working-day. The
taxes may be laid so unfairly as to encourage one kind of
business and oppress another. Sometimes the taxes are
contrived so as to enrich a particular set of men, like the
salt manufacturers, at the expense of every one who uses
These are among the ways in which the laws may inter-
fere wdth business. Sometimes the law is needful, as, for
example, to protect women and children. But it has been
found by long experience that it is very hazardous to make
laws that meddle with business. The rule is to leave trade
as free as possible of restrictions. If we thwart or harass
any kind of business, it becomes more costly. If we favor
it above others, besides being unfair, we take away from
those who carry it on the natural spur to improve and
cheapen their methods. If we fix prices or wages, or the
THE ABUSES AND PERILS OF GOVERNMENT. 147
hours of labor, we always tempt men to get around the
law in some other way, and make it harder for those who
are honest and obedient. For those who buy and sell of
each other are more likely in the long run to secure fair
play than the public who look on from the outside. In all
these subjects, however, there is room for much difference
of opinion, as there is need for wise judgment. In fact,
legislators and congressmen are not generally wise enough
to meddle with other people's business, and always do this
at great risk.
Public debts and borrowing. — It is a good rule in
housekeeping to live within one's income. But our mod-
ern cities have grown very fast ; they have needed immense
sums of money for buildings and waterworks and parks.
Sometimes they have suffered from devastating fires. They
have been tempted, therefore, to borrow money. The
national government, especially in the Civil War, felt
obliged to incur a gigantic debt. Many States also rolled
up debts. Nearly everywhere a considerable part of the
taxes now goes to paying the interest upon borrowed
The harm that debt does. — A habit of debt inflicts
the same kind of harm upon a people that it works in a
family. It makes men careless ; it leads to further bor-
rowing; it provokes extravagance, waste, and corruption;
it sets a bad example to individuals ; it is also very expen-
sive. Though it is urged that posterity ought to help pay
for the public roads, buildings, and sewers, the fact is that
the present generation has to pay more than their cost in
interest money, and then leaves the encumbrance of debt
like a mortgage upon every one's property for one's chil-
dren to pay. On the contrary, a small increase in the
annual taxes would enable every city or State to pay its
148 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
way without debt. In this case citizens would be more
careful to watch the use of the public money which is
taken from their own pockets.
The ignorant vote. — Our country has welcomed men of
every nation, and has given to all free citizenship on easy
terms. Many of the newcomers had never enjoyed our
advantages of public schools ; they had often been despised
and oppressed. They came here, therefore, in great igno-
rance and with strong prejudices, sometimes against all
authority. They had never before been trusted to help
govern or to vote.
The freeing of the slaves in the South left a vast negro
population, who became voters before they had generally
learned to read and write. A large number of whites in
the old slave States, being degraded by the touch of
slavery, were poor and very illiterate.
These ignorant voters help govern ; but they are easily
excited and are apt to be led by bad or foolish men. In
many localities they are numerous enough to turn the
Popular crazes. — Ideas are often catching like wild-
fire. The new idea, if many people are thinking and
feeling alike, will seize all their minds almost at once.
Sometimes it is a good idea which seizes them, as after
the firing on Fort Sumter, when the idea of saving the
Union swept over the land. But the popular idea may
be hasty and mistaken. Thus in the case of " the Green-
back delusion," when multitudes imagined that the poor
might be helped to be rich, if the government would print
sufficient quantities of paper dollars. It is a craze when
the farmers or others think that it is part of the duty of
government to lend money, and so tempt every one to run
into debt. It was also a popular craze that hurried the
THE ABUSES AND PERILS OF GOVERNMENT. 149
Southern States into the War of Secession against the
better judgment of their more careful citizens. Riots,
revolutions, and even wars have likewise been kindled by
such sudden movements of excited feeling. There is
need, therefore, of trained and careful citizens who will
hold fast like a rock against the waves of sudden passion
or error; as in the school an older or more independent
scholar may dissuade the rest from cowardly or foolish
The tyranny of majorities. — We have already seen
that it is not only a king or a despot who may exercise
tyranny. Sometimes the majority may abuse their power
to the injury of the minority. It is possible for a party
who hold the majority in a State to manage so that the
other party shall hardly be represented in the government.
It is possible for the majority to levy taxes that shall bear
unfairly upon the minority. It needs, therefore, to be seen
that gaining the vote of a majority for any action does
not make the action right, any more than the command
of a king makes a thing right.
The lobby. — There are many members of a legislature
or Congress who are ignorant or uninformed upon the
subjects on which they must vote. Thus the legislature
may be asked to pass laws relating to railroads or gas
companies. It has become the custom to employ agents
both on the part of those who want the new laws and
of those who oppose them, to wait on the members of the
legislature, and use influence to secure their votes. These
agents are often paid large salaries. They are sometimes
in attendance at the capitol as long as the legislature is in
-ion, to look out for the interests of their clients. They
are even authorized on occasion to Spend money to further
their cause. If legislators are weak, and the agents are
150 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
unprincipled, there will be bribery and fraud. These
agents constitute what is called the lobby, a word which
literally means the space just outside the legislative hall.
The saloon power. — The great abuses of the alcoholic
drinks have required many laws to check or resist the
traffic. These laws have led the persons engaged in the
liquor traffic to stand on the defensive, and to combine to
maintain their business. There are many millions of
money and hundreds of thousands of people concerned
in the various branches of this business. There is thus
created a formidable power which is ready to purchase or
threaten or bargain with either political party in order to
get its own ends. In cities this liquor or saloon power
too often controls elections, or nominates men to office,
and even interferes with the management of the police.
It will be seen how many political perils and diseases
are in the air. They demand intelligence, courage, ac-
tivity, and patriotism on the part of the citizen. Good
citizens are like the vital germs in the blood which fight
off malaria. If these healthy vital germs are numerous,
the body politic is safe and strong ; but if they are few and
meagre, the commonwealth suffers decay.
Rebellion and revolution. — The evils of a govern-
ment through tyranny, through persecution, through cor-
ruption and iniquitous laws, may become intolerable.
When citizens refuse to obey their government, or take
up arms against its officers, it is called rebellion. If the
rebellion succeeds and the government is changed, — as for
example when our forefathers established the republic, —
the change is called revolution. Rebellion is right on
three conditions ; namely, if a government seriously op-
presses its citizens with abuses ; if all peaceable measures
of reform have been tried in vain ; and if there is a rea-
THE ABUSES AND PERILS OF GOVERNMENT. 151
sonable probability of replacing the bad government with
a better. Otherwise rebellion is a terrible injustice. In
a republic, rebellion can hardly be conceived of as justifi-
able. For the constitution provides peaceable means to
cure evils by persuading and enlightening public opin-
ion. Rebellion, therefore, usually implies a condition of
barbarism, where men are not yet good or intelligent
enough to settle their differences like rational beings.
152 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
FACTS WHICH EVERY ONE SHOULD KNOW. —
Besides the permanent facts about the system of our
government, there are certain important practical facts,
which every intelligent citizen should know, as regards
the officials who for the time carry on the government.
The chief officers of the national government. —
Every one is supposed to know who is the President of the
United States and the Vice-President. One should also
know who are the members of the Cabinet, or the heads
of the great departments of the government ; and espe-
cially the Secretary of State, who in the event of the
death of the President and Vice-President would suc-
ceed to the Presidency. One should know who is the
Speaker or presiding officer of the House of Representa-
tives, who appoints the most important committees of
Congress. One should also know who are the most dis-
tinguished members of Congress in both parties ; and in
particular the two senators from one's own State, and at
least the representative of one's congressional district.
One should know who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court, if not all the associate judges. One should also
know who the ministers are who represent our country at
the capitals of the great nations, as England, France, and
The State officers. — Besides the governor and lieu-
tenant-governor of one's own State, one should know who
FACTS WHICH EVER? ONE SHOULD KNOW. 153
the State senator is in his district, and who represents the
town or city in the legislature ; the president of the State
Senate and the speaker of the House. One should know
who are some of the judges of the Supreme Court, the
judge of the local district court, and some justice of the
The town, city, and county officers. — One should
know who the chief officer or officers of one's town are, as
the mayor or selectmen ; the clerk, who keeps the public
records ; the treasurer, who has the public money ; and the
superintendent or committee, who manage the schools. If
it is a city, one should know who are at the head of the
important departments, with the alderman and the mem-
bers of the common council from one's district.
It is well also to know what towns and cities make up the
county, and where the county seat is ; who is the sheriff ;
the county or district attorney, or lawyer who prosecutes
offences ; the registrar of deeds, who has the records of
property ; the probate judge, who has charge over wills ;
the clerk of the court ; and the county commissioners.
Open questions. — There are certain questions upon
which opinion is divided, or upon which citizens have not
yet thought sufficiently to make up their minds to act.
We have already hinted at the difficulties that arise from
some of these questions. One of them is about the tariff.
The tariff, or free trade and protection. — Whenever
trade follows its natural course, nations exchange their
products with each other, somewhat as men do in the same
country. As the farmer sells his hay, buys wheat, hires
carpenters or buys lumber wherever he can trade to advan-
tage, so India sends its cotton or wheat to England and buys
of the English various manufactured goods. As long as the
farmer can sell plenty of hay and wheat, he can better
154 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
afford to hire carpenters than to do the carpenter's work
himself. So when England will pay well for the cotton,
India can better afford to supply it than to bnild factories
to make her own cloths.
If there were no custom houses in the world, so that
people of every nation could freely buy wherever they
could get the best bargains, the various goods needed in
trade would be produced wherever it was found to be profit-
able to produce them. If the climate and soil of Cuba
were exactly suited to raising sugar, the countries which
could not raise sugar so well would be glad to get it from
the Cubans, and pay for it in articles which they could
make better. This would be free- trade.
But governments have to raise great sums of money.
One easy way to collect a revenue is to take a toll or duty
upon foreign goods as they cross the frontier. This tax is
the tariff. In ancient times every little state and every
city collected this kind of toll, as the city of Paris still
does. As we know, the merchant first pays it, and then
collects it in turn from his customers by adding to the
price of his goods. This toll or duty may be for one of
two distinct purposes, or for both of them together. One
purpose is to raise a revenue for the state. Thus England
raises millions of dollars upon articles of luxury, as coffee,
tea, tobacco, and wines. Some say that this is all that the
tariff rightly is for ; namely, to produce an income for the
government. Otherwise, they say, trade ought to be as
free as possible.
The second purpose for which a tariff is used is to ham-
per or prevent foreign trade. If the foreigner and his
goods can be kept away by the barrier of a high tax, the
sugar, or the nails, or the cotton goods, will have to be
made at home. This is called protection to native indus-
FACTS WHICH EVERY ONE SHOULD KNOW. 155
try. Thus if the Frenchman can afford to sell silks at two
dollars a yard, but the tax at the custom house is two
dollars more, it might pay some one to start silk works
here, and even to bring over French workmen. Every
one who brought silk from abroad in this case would have
to pay more in order that the American silk factory might
be run at a profit. It is churned by the advocates of pro-
tection that it is desirable for a country to produce, so far
as possible, all that it needs ; and also that after the silk
factory or other industry has been protected long enough, it
will be able to produce goods as cheaply as the foreigners.
It is one of the great open questions how far this nation
ought to protect the home manufacturer; in other words,
to adjust taxes so as to enable him to make money. One
party claim that this policy increases the volume of work
done by the nation, and thus adds to its wealth; that it is,
therefore, American. The other party claim that protec-
tion is narrow and exclusive ; that it is a survival in mod-
ern times of the barbarous jealousy which one nation felt
towards its rivals as outsiders ; that it adds to the gains of
a few at the expense of all ; and finally, that the educated
and skilled American workman does not need protection.
Prohibition and license. — Another open question is the
treatment of the liquor traffic. There are certain kinds,
of business which are especially dangerous, and which
ought therefore to be under the control of discreet men
only. The sale of gunpowder and the druggists' business
come under this head, and require some kind of public
license. The sale of alcoholic drinks is particularly dan-
gerous, since there are great numbers who are excited or
made crazy by these drinks. Besides waste and expense,
injury to life and property very frequently attends their
use. It is an open question how the public can best con-
156 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
trol this kind of business. For some hold that on the
whole it does so much harm to the public, and so little
good, that it ought to be, like gambling and lotteries,
under the ban of the law. But others vote to tax and
restrict it, and to grant licenses for carrying it on only to
those who can give bonds for their carefulness by the pay-
ment of a large fee. As we have already seen in Chapter
XVI., this is partly for the sake of raising the public money.
But another reason is to control and lessen a dangerous
business. This question will deserve further treatment
under the head of social duties.
National education. — The intention of our government
has been to leave the subject of education to each State to
manage for itself. If any State neglects to educate its
children to be intelligent citizens, that State will be first
to suffer the consequences of its neglect. It is, therefore,
for the interest of every State to provide public education.
The vast number of blacks emancipated from slavery
and admitted to citizenship has put a new face on the prob-
lem of education. The cost of public education bears
hardest upon some of the poorest States. The ignorance
of the voters allows unscrupulous men to cheat at the
elections. The voters in any state for the State officers
are also voters in United States elections. It might happen
thus that the election of the President would hang upon
the correct counting of the ballots of a few hundred men
who could not read.
There are some, therefore, who advocate the granting of
aid from the national treasury to help public education, on
the ground that this is a measure of national protection.
On the other hand, it is urged by equally strong friends of
public education, that the best way to secure good schools
is to leave the responsibility upon the State which will
FACTS WHICH EVERY ONE SHOULD KNOW. 157
benefit by haying them, and which will suffer if they are
neglected ; and that there is no State which js not able to
provide its own schools.
The question of woman's suffrage has been referred to in
Chapter XIX. Other questions relate to the banks and
the money ; the treatment of the Indians ; whether the
old custom of having two legislative houses is better than
to have a single house ; whether it is desirable for the
government to own and manage the railways and the
telegraph lines, and in cities the gas, electric and water
works, as well as the street railways ; the various methods
of taxation, and especially whether a tax might not wisely
be laid upon the succession of great estates ; the treatment
of bankrupt debtors (bankrupt laws) ; the best method of
securing justice to authors, or an international copyright
law. On all these subjects persons of wide knowledge hold
different opinions. It is well, therefore, not to make up
one's mind without careful study.
158 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
IMPROVEMENTS IN GOVERNMENT. — RADICALS AND
A system of government is never completed. New
conditions arise ; new laws have to be made ; old machinery
wears out and needs repairing ; new machinery has to be
invented. This is especially true in a new and growing
country. There are, therefore, suggestions to be made of
possible improvements in our system of government.
The presidential electors. — The framers of our Con-
stitution believed that nothing demanded such wisdom and
care as the selection of the President and Vice-President.
They accordingly arranged that the people of each State
should choose as many picked men as the number of its
senators and representatives together. These leading citi-
zens from all the States should form the electoral college,
who should be quite free to select, from the whole nation,
the fittest candidates for the two great offices at the head
of the government. 1
This beautiful plan has entirely failed. The presidential
electors, so far from being free to choose the best men they
can find, are really pledged beforehand to cast their votes
for particular candidates. A great convention of each
party fixes the candidates. A child could do all that is
required of a presidential elector.
The method of choice for the electors, moreover, is
thought not to work fairly. The voters of each State cast
1 Consult Article XII. of the Amendments to the Constitution of the
• IMPROVEMENTS IN GOVERNMENT. 159
their ballots, not directly for the President mid Vice-Presi-
dent, but for the list of their party electors. A plurality of
votes for a list elects the whole list. That is, if there are
three tickets or lists before the voters, and one of them has
forty thousand votes, the next has thirty-five thousand, and
the third has twenty-five thousand, the list which has more
than either of the others wins the vote of the whole State.
The votes of the other parties are thus thrown away, while
a list may be elected which did not have nearly a majority
of the vote of the State.
Moreover, in this way a minority of the people of the
United States may elect President and Vice-President,
while an actual majority of the voters prefer the opposite
candidates. For the weaker party, which had, for example,
only seven million votes in the nation out of fifteen mil-
lions, might, notwithstanding, by winning the whole elec-
toral vote of the great States of New York, Pennsylvania,
and Ohio, with some smaller States, finally get a majority
by one or two votes in the electoral college, although the
opposite party actually cast eight million votes.
This fact is a temptation to spend a great deal of money
in carrying the election in States where the parties are
nearly balanced. Whereas in other States, where a party
has a very large majority, men often do not take the trouble
It would seem to be fairer, since the electoral college has
failed of its purpose, to abolish it, and to permit every citi-
zen to vote directly for the President and Vice-President,
and to declare the candidates elected who have actually
the most votes in the whole country. There would then
be no temptation to spend money in carrying an election
in one part of the country more than in another, and every
citizen would be made to feel his responsibility to vote.
160 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The time of the meeting of Congress. — The members
of a new Congress are elected eveiy other year in Novem-
ber. But the Congress thus elected does not meet till the
December of the year following. Meanwhile the old Con-
gress continues to serve, though the country may have
voted to turn out many of its members, and to change its
majority to the opposite party. A new President may also
have been inaugurated in March. The long interval be-
tween the election and the meeting of Congress was per-
haps well enough in the early days of the republic, when
it required many weeks to travel from the more distant
States. But it is quite absurd, now that a week will bring
the most distant representative to his seat in Washington.
The responsibility of the executive. — Our fathers
were afraid that governors and presidents might usurp too
much power ; but they did not foresee that committees of
Congress and the legislature, and even the committees of
parties, might also usurp the power and meddle with the
government. It is as though the stockholders of a great
railroad feared to trust their superintendent, or to give
him the power to appoint his officers or to manage the
road ; but tried instead to keep the business in their own
hands. If accidents then happened, or losses befell the
road, no one in particular could be blamed.
The larger and more complicated the government be-
comes, the more directly do we need to make the chief
executive responsible for its good conduct. The President
must choose the best Postmaster-General, and he in turn
must have command of the business of his office. If any-
thing is at fault, it will be because the head is at fault, and
will reflect so much discredit upon the President who made
the appointment. So in the other departments of the
administration. If there is waste of money in useless
IMPROVEMENTS IN' GOVEBNMENT. L61
public works, we ought to know iit once what head of a
department is to blame. But if the public business is
wisely administered, we shall like to re-elect the President
who gives us good and honest service.
In the same way in the States, and especially in the
cities. We need to make the mayor more directly respon-
sible, like the railroad superintendent, and to give him
power enough to carry out his work. He shall choose
men as the heads of the various departments of the city,
as the railroad superintendent or president chooses his
assistants. The various committees, for example, upon
the streets, will then be responsible not for the conduct of
the work, but only to make report upon it, and to offer
suggestions for its improvement.
The Cabinet and Congress. — It is customary for the
President to communicate with Congress by letters or
messages ; it is also the custom for the heads of the
various departments of government to make reports to
Congress, and to recommend plans for the public service.
It has not been the custom for the President or members
of his Cabinet to appear on the floor of Congress and to
explain the policy of the government, or to answer ques-
tions about it. It is as though the president and cashier
of a bank were never to meet the directors or to be given
an opportunity, except in writing, of stating what plans
seem desirable for the prosperity of the bank.
It happens, therefore, that the executive and the legisla-
tive branches of the government sometimes work out of
gear. Congress often fails to do anything to meet the
recommendations of the heads of the great departments.
The executive and Congress would be brought closer if
the members of the Cabinet could at any time bring for-
ward the business of their departments before Congress;
162 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
or again, could be invited to present their plans in person.
The administration would thus be made more directly
responsible for public measures. The country would know
where a plan was started, whereas now many ill-considered
plans proceed from committees, where no one can easily
trace the blame. Moreover, a Congressman represents his
district or State ; but we need some one to speak for the
So also in the government of the State, where the gov-
ernor and the heads of the departments should have a
hearing in the legislature, and be able to bring forward
plans for the public service. The mayor and his chiefs
should likewise directly present their plans for the public
service before the city council.
Fewer elective officers. — The ordinary citizen cannot
easily know the fitness for office of many candidates. He
must choose by rumor and report, and sometimes unfairly.
It is not desirable, therefore, to multiply the offices to be
filled by general elections. There are many important
offices now filled at haphazard by the vote of a multitude,
which might more fitly be filled by the appointment of the
executive, who would then be responsible for good appoint-
ments. All judges, sheriffs, and attorneys for the govern-
ment ought specially to be chosen in this more careful way
rather than by popular election.
Longer terms of office. — It would injure any industry
or business to change the management every year. So it
hurts the^ interest of the state or city to make frequent
changes (rotation in office) in the heads of the govern-
ment. As a rule, a good officer ought to be kept as long
as he will serve. If another might do as well, the expe-
rience of the first constantly adds to his value. It must
be remembered that the offices are not in order to give
IMPROVEMENTS IN GOVERNMENT. 163
men places, but to serve tbe people as well as possible.
There has been a bad law by which the term of numerous
postmasters and other officers, appointed directly by the
President, expires at the end of four years. This law
ought to be repealed.
The two-thirds vote. — There are many cases where it
seems fair or necessary that a bare majority should decide
a question ; or, when there are several plans or candidates,
it may be quite fair to agree upon the one that has a plu-
rality, or more than any other. But there are also cases
when it does not seem wise or fair to compel a large
minority by a majority vote. It is often agreed, for
instance, that there must be a vote of two-thirds to change
the constitution of a State. It is believed that for taking
so important a step, a bare majority ought to wait till they
have persuaded others to agree with them. Action that
is thus delayed is likely to remain, whereas action which
a bare majority hasten through may be soon reversed. It
would be well if this courtesy towards a minority were
oftener required by our laws. It is an application of the
excellent rule, "to do as we w r ould be done by," to respect
the reasonable protest of a large minority.
The reform of the caucus. — It has been shown that
many elections are practically decided by the caucus, or
meeting, of the stronger party. Whatever the caucus
decides upon is likely to be done. If a little ring or com-
mittee manage the caucus and arrange its business, it may
accordingly happen that the citizen becomes merely a
voting-machine to do what has been arranged beforehand.
The party committee of the caucus also frequently collect
and expend a good deal of money.
The caucus, therefore, should be so contrived as to give
every citizen fair and independent opportunity to express
164 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
his mind and make his own choice. The Australian bal-
lot system, for example, if used at the caucus, would
permit voters freely to use their influence in favor of
the best candidates. A published account of all elec-
tion expenses would also be a check upon the abuse of
money at elections; for all evil practices shrink from
Radicals and conservatives. — There are some per-
sons in every community who naturally favor new plans
and changes. They hold that it is desirable to improve
the government, and that no government is so good but
that it may be better. These are the progressives or radi-
cals. Men are sometimes progressives because they are
wise, far-sighted, and courageous, but others, because they
are fickle, and love change.
There are also certain persons who dread change, who
are aware of the expense and risk that attend it, and who
hold that it is wise as a rule to " let well enough alone,"
or at least to delay change till it becomes quite necessary.
These are the conservatives. Men may be conservative
because they are experienced and cautious ; or, again, be-
cause they are timid and lazy.
Between the progressives and the conservatives are many
citizens who are sometimes on one side and again on the
other, or who favor one so-called reform but oppose the
next. The discussion and opposition of these two tenden-
cies help to bring to view the advantages and difficulties
of every new plan proposed.
The great political parties, as the Tories and Radicals
in England, sometimes shift places with each other, and
the party which has once opposed change or reform will
be found foremost in advocating some radical measure in
order to get into power. The great mass of men are very
IMPROVEMENTS IN GOVERNMENT. 165
liable, like a party of boys, to go with a rush where their
The fair presumption. — We rarely approach any ques-
tion that needs to be decided without some bias in favor of
one side or the other. Often we have a right to this bias.
Thus we presume that any man accused of a crime is inno-
cent until he is proved to be guilty. The presumption, as
we say, is always in favor of holding a man to be good
rather than bad. So in political questions. There is always
a fair presumption in favor of the old or accustomed way
and against change. It is for those who advocate change
to show that the old way is wrong or unwise, or to prove
that change is likely to be a real improvement, and so to
increase the public good.
There is always a presumption, however, in favor of a
principle, as justice or liberty. If a custom, however ven-
erable, like slavery, can be shown to be contrary to the
principle of human freedom, the presumption is at once
turned against it. So if any change, like Civil Service
reform, is demanded by justice.
The ideal citizen. — The ideal or best possible citizen is
conservative and progressive at once. For he prefers the
old and familiar methods of government as long as they
continue to do good service ; but he is perfectly willing to
listen to any plan which promises better service. He is
cautious in trying political experiments, but fearless as
soon as he sees that the change is right. Thus the men
who founded our republic were at the same time wise and
brave and candid. The best citizen also is hopeful about
the future of the nation, for he believes, whatever abuses
there are, that Right will triumph in the end. He is quite
willing, therefore, to act with a minority for a while, in
order to further a just principle.
ECONOMIC DUTIES, OR THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES
OF BUSINESS AND MONEY.
ECONOMIC DUTIES, OR THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES
OF BUSINESS AND MONEY.
WHAT WEALTH IS.
There are two meanings of wealth. The larger mean-
ing comprises everything which makes men "well off."
In this sense a man's health, his home, his children, the
salubrious climate, the air and the rain, the beautiful scenery
of his country, are a part of his wealth. In this broad
sense the man who enjoyed life most amply, whether he
had much or little property, would be best off or most
wealthy. In this sense, indeed, his best wealth, which
made him most happy, might not have any money or
In the narrower sense wealth is everything which has
a market value ; that is, which can be bought and sold.
Houses, ships, lands, wheat, cattle, furniture, books and
pictures, gold, silver, iron, — all such things constitute visi-
ble wealth, which we can see and touch. If such things,
wherever they could be found, were added together, they
would make up the wealth of the nation.
Natural wealth. — There is much that is often called
wealth which has no present marl^et value. The fish on
our shores, the wild lands in the West, the timber in
170 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Alaska, the ores in the mines, — all these things of un-
known value may some time be wealth, but they are not
yet wealth, till they can be bought and sold.
In the strict sense of the word, man always creates
wealth; sometimes by his labor, as when he produces
wheat or builds a house ; sometimes by bringing a thing,
like wild fruit, to market, and offering it for sale ; and
again merely by claiming it as his own, as when a man
fences off a piece of land, or discovers a mine.
Wealth in public works. — That is not always wealth
which costs money. Thus a city may spend millions of
dollars in building sewers or constructing streets. But
the sewers and streets are not strictly wealth, since when
they are constructed no one would pay anything for them.
There may be public works also, like jails and almshouses,
in which wealth is sunk. The need of such things is a
public misfortune, and stands for the presence of poverty
and crime. In other words, a nation that had outgrown
the necessity for jails and almshouses would be richer than
a nation that had many costly buildings of this sort. As
a well man, who has no medicines in his house, is better
off than a lame or sick man who has a large supply of
crutches and drugs.
Wealth is likewise sunk in fortifications and war-ships.
The nation would be richer if it had no need of these
things, as a man is better off who does not have to keep
pistols to defend himself from burglars.
Wealth in men. — There is wealth in horses or mules,
because they can work, and can therefore be bought and
sold, or hired. There was also wealth in men, for the same
reason, under the system of slavery. " A large part of all
the property of a slave State was in men. This kind of
wealth did not disappear because the slaves were made
WHAT WEALTH IS. 171
free, as free men own themselves instead of being owned
by masters. They can hire or sell their labor, their skill,
or their knowledge. A man without owning any visible
wealth may possess qualities, in himself, such as experience
and integrity, which will bring thousands of dollars a year.
A young State which has many such men will soon have
abundant visible wealth. But although wealth in men,
that is, their labor and skill, can be bought and sold, so
that a man with no money and a good trade is richer than
an ignorant man with a thousand dollars, yet this kind of
wealth is not generally counted. It is not shown in the
census reports ; in fact, it is not easy to measure it in ♦
Wealth in paper. — A man may have large wealth and
never see it. Some of it may have been lent to farmers or
to help build warehouses in a distant city. Some of it may
have helped a company of men to build a mill, or a line
of steamers, or a railroad, in a new State. Some of it may
have been put into a bank, and then loaned with other
money all over the country. But while the rich man may
not see anything which he owns, he has papers which show
the amount of his wealth. Some of these papers are notes,
signed by men who promise to pay so many dollars ; or
mortgages on the farmer's house and land ; or railroad
bonds, which are notes of the railroad company ; or certifi-
cates of so many shares in the mill or the bank; or bonds
of the government, which are really a sort of mortgage
upon all the property of the people; or paper bills, which
promise so many dollars in gold or silver.
This paper wealth, these bonds and notes and certifi-
cates, may be bought and sold in the market, but they
have no value in themselves; the country would not be
poorer if they were burned. Yet they are often counted
172 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
as so much wealth. A State like New York is said to
have so many millions of dollars in visible wealth, and
so many millions more in paper wealth. It is evident that
in this way the same wealth is often counted twice. For
example : the railroad is counted once for its visible value
in land, rails, stations, and cars ; and then it is counted
again for the paper bonds and shares, which merely show
who its owners are.
So with the mortgage on the farmer's land. It shows
that for the present some one else owns part of the farm.
Perhaps a savings-bank has the mortgage, in which case
all the depositors in the bank have a share together in the
As we have already seen, the government often attempts
to tax the same property, first as visible and again as paper
wealth. 1 Thus the farmer will pay the full tax on his
farm ; the bank or company which loaned money to the
farmer may pay another tax ; and the individual who has
a share in the bank may pay again.
The wealth in paper may sometimes mean an addition
to the real wealth of a state. Thus the people of Great
Britain own hundreds of millions of value all over the
world in lands and mines, etc. The bonds and paper cer-
tificates show that other countries are so much in the debt
of Great Britain. So the people of Philadelphia may hold
paper bonds and shares in stores and mills in a number of
cities in the West, and the people of other cities may like-
wise own in Philadelphia in the same way.
False wealth. — There may be wealth, or things which
can be bought and sold in the market, which harm the
persons who use them. Thus, if ardent spirits hurt and
degrade a community, the distilleries and saloons used
i See Chapter XVI. p. 95.
WHAT WEALTH IS. 173
by the liquor business must lessen the wealth of the peo-
ple. Although, therefore, the census reports may \uU\ bo
many millions for the distilleries and saloons, or for build-
ings used by gamblers, a true estimate would be to sub-
tract this value, since that cannot really be wealth which
in some way does not make men better off. It is as if a
farmer kept a vicious bull which destroyed every year
several times its value.
How wealth varies. — That which is wealth in one
place may not be in another. Land which is worth several
dollars a foot in New York may be worth nothing in Green-
land, nor a picture in Patagonia. This is because wealth
depends on a market, or the desire of men to buy and sell.
Even the same market may change from one year to
another. Thus London is called the great market of the
world, because all sorts of things are bought and sold
there. But, in case of rumors of war, men's desire to buy
and sell might be suddenly checked. In that case the
value of many kinds of wealth would fall, although the
things themselves would still remain.
Robinson Crusoe's lands and goats, though real wealth,
would not strictly be wealth till other men appeared to
purchase them, that is, to make a market. Even gold
would not be wealth on the lonely island, for one man
would have no use for it.
All wealth is constantly being destroyed, or used up, or
worn out. Some kinds, like food, are only good for imme-
diate consumption. Clothing lasts a little longer, but soon
has to be renewed. Houses and buildings at last go to
decay. The gold and iron wear out. Perhaps one-eighth
of all the wealth in a country is used up in a single year.
Among a poor or barbarous people probably the propor-
tion is much larger. The land is the one thing which
174 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
remains the same ; but its fertility is often exhausted
while the demand for it is constantly changing.
The increase of wealth. — Although wealth is con-
stantly destroyed or worn out, it is also re-created. The
harvests of , each year renew it; the labor and skill of mil-
lions of persons change the raw products into new and
higher values, as in the case of a steel watch-spring, worth
many fold the cost of the crude iron ore. Even the land
may grow in value by being tilled, or the growth of a city
may give each square foot of land a greater value than an
acre possessed before the city was built. A large part of
the wealth of people in towns and cities consists merely in
the land upon which stores and houses are crowded to-
gether. The greater the city, the more the value of this
The wealth of a people is thus like the body of a man.
It is in a state of constant change or flux. It is always
being renewed or made over. On the average, it is all
made over once in a few years, but some parts of it are
more durable than the rest.
HIE CONDITIONS OF WEALTH. 175
THE CONDITIONS OF WEALTH.
If a household of children were rude and destructive,
or had not learned how to use toys or articles of furniture,
it would be impossible for them to keep anything of value :
they would have no wealth. So with a savage people.
As long as men were barbarous, the duties of business and
property were extremely simple. The land belonged to
the whole family or tribe. There was little furniture in
the rude tents or huts where the people lived together in
alternate plenty and want. There was little or no barter
or exchange of goods, and no shops or merchants, and not
for a long time any coined money. The chiefs lived much
like the common people, as is still the case among the
American Indians. As men came to live in cities, life
grew less simple ; all sorts of luxuries were demanded ;
various trades arose ; and there became everywhere a
wealthy class, living differently from their neighbors. The
growth of cities brought travel, and therefore the more
trade, as the people of one place learned to desire the
things which another place produced. There came to be
great trading cities, like Tyre and Carthage, which sent
their ships beyond the Mediterranean Sea.
Unfavorable conditions. — There were serious obstacles,
however, in early times in the way of industry and com-
merce and the amassing of wealth.
War. — There was almost constant war. A rich city
was always liable to be pillaged and burned. The caia-
176 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
vans of merchants were likely to he attacked by robbers.
Men had to defend themselves, or to obey ambitious kings,
and had not the leisure to work and earn money.
Piracy. — The seas, too, were infested with pirates, who
thought it right to seize merchant-ships, and sell their
crews for slaves.
Slavery. — Slavery also obstructed industry and busi-
ness. The slaves did less work than free men could do,
and the latter were less willing to work. Thus there came
to be everywhere a great class of idle people.
Caste. — In some countries also, as in India to-day, there
were castes, that is, classes of people, the members of
which could not change their occupation. The son of a
tanner had to be a tanner too. Thus bright men in the
lower castes were kept from rising. Ambition and inven-
tion were checked, and warriors were thought better than
Prejudice against foreigners. — There was a prejudice
everywhere against foreigners, who were not given an equal
chance with native citizens, and whose goods were often
heavily taxed, and sometimes confiscated.
Thus war, piracy, slavery, caste, contempt of work,
jealousy of foreigners — in fact, all unjust customs — hin-
dered business, and prevented the increase of wealth.
The physical conditions of wealth ; the climate. —
There are certain countries in which, so far as we know,
there has never been any wealth. Id the arctic regions,
for example, where the energies of man are nearly ex-
hausted in the fight with winter, there could never be a
rich civilization. In the heart of Africa or under the equa-
tor civilization has never flourished. On the contrary, the
richest nations dwell in temperate regions. The climate
of a country, then, is one of the conditions that help or
hinder the wealth of a people.
THE CONDITIONS OF WEALTH. 177
Natural resources. — Certain countries are poor by
nature. The soil may be sterile, fuel may be scarce, the
supplies of valuable minerals may be scanty. Other coun-
tries enjoy rich lands, ample forests and coal fields, vast
water power, good harbors, and inexhaustible mines. The
United States are thus magnificently endowed with the
materials of wealth.
The spur of necessity. — In the Garden of Eden, as in
one of the beautiful islands of the Southern Pacific Ocean,
there would be little wealth. The people would be too
comfortable to need to labor. The abundance of fruit
would content them ; the mild climate would not require
much clothing or the building of permanent houses. There
never would be art or books unless men learned to work,
and few would learn to work unless there was some
As soon, however, as the conditions of living become
harder ; when fruits do not grow of themselves, but have
to be cultivated ; when cold and wet demand clothes for
men's bodies ; when men require shelter and permanent
houses, wealth begins through the spur of necessity.
Necessity teaches men to work ; all work requires more
work to perfect and secure it ; the field once tilled has to
be fenced or protected from wild creatures ; the house has
to be enlarged and improved ; inventions come to save
labor, and the inventions themselves demand new kinds
of labor and new appliances, that is, more wealth. The
introduction of the telephone into a town requires an in-
creased force of men and women to manage the busin
and the increasing numbers require more houses and more
The necessity at first seems to be a misfortune. Thus
in the north the long and cold winter requires fuel and
178 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
hay, and more labor to supply these necessaries. It comes
to pass that a considerable portion of the wealth of the
nation consists in wood, coal, and hay, which the rigor of
the climate demands.
Everything that men esteem precious thus arises from
some kind of necessity, either real or imaginary. The
need of bread or shoes or tools stirs them to work to
overcome the need, and thus to grow rich.
Intellectual conditions ; enterprise or energy. — There
are some races, and certain persons in every race, who are
more easily contented or more indolent than others. They
do not feel so keenly the spur of necessity. One condition
of wealth, therefore, is energy or enterprise. The enter-
prising farmer will work more hours in a day ; take better
care of his cattle ; provide warmer buildings ; fertilize his
land ; and grow rich by his labor.
Intelligence. — An ignorant people have few wants, and
therefore little wealth. An ignorant people could not
have invented the steam-engine, neither would they have
felt the need for the articles which the steam-engine helps
to produce. It is when the average intelligence of people
has risen to demand a vast supply of many things, that
the spur of necessity urges inventors to harness the forces
of nature to help them in shops, mills, and railroads. The
single invention of the steam-engine, called forth by intel-
ligence, has within a few years increased many times the
wealth of the world.
Taste. — A certain portion of all wealth is for enjoy-
ment or decoration. Pictures, statues, beautiful buildings,
instruments of music, the products of the various arts, con-
stitute this kind of wealth. It arises from higher kinds
of need, as men come to want satisfaction for their sense
of beauty. As soon as a people have learned how to pro-
THi: CONDITIONS OF WEALTH. 179
vide plenty of the great necessaries of food and clothing,
they can afford to set a larger number of their workmen
free to produce and to cheapen the articles of taste. Many
can now have pictures and books, and pianos, which once
the few only could enjoy. The more taste the people
have, the larger will be the production of this form of
wealth. The call for works of art, taste, comfort, and
luxury requires more shops and houses ; that is, greater
wealth of other kinds. So the taste for natural scenery
adds a new value to rocky hills and wild shores, for which
persons without taste would see no use.
Moral conditions : Honesty. — There are certain moral
conditions of wealth. There would be little wealth, if
thieves and robbers were abroad. For it would be hope-
less to labor and gather abundance, only to be snatched
away. So, too, if the government were dishonest and took
men's savings ruthlessly from them, like the government
of the Turks.
Good faith or trust. — Wealth is daily changing hands.
A vast portion of business consists in trade. Wool, cotton,
wheat, must be brought from distant States and manufac-
tured articles returned. But trade would be impossible
unless men could trust each other. Trade is carried on in
the faith that men will do as they promise, that they will
pay for what they buy, that they will furnish articles as
good as they agree. Even a few men who break their
word injure business, cause distrust, and require higher
prices in order to induce merchants to take the risk of
being cheated. The honest have thus to suffer for the
faithless. On the contrary, if all men would keep their
word, more business could be done, at cheaper rates, and
every one could have more wealth.
A state of peace. — When our forefathers were at war
180 THE AMEBIC AN CITIZEN.
with the French and Indians, they were liable to see
their corn-fields and towns burned, and their ships cap-
tured. They could not make wealth in time of war. But
as soon as peace returned, the French and the Indians
helped them to get more wealth. The Indians brought
them furs, and took cloth and iron in return. Their ships
sailed to France, and both the French and the Americans
profited by trading together. The Americans sold their
furs and salt fish, of which they had more than they
needed, and bought from France silk and other articles,
such as they could not make so well as the Frenchmen.
Trade made more wealth in both countries, but trade
depended on the nations being at peace.
Courage. — It sometimes happens that vast amounts of
wealth are suddenly swept away, as by a fire or a flood.
Such occasions demand courage, not only at the time, but
afterwards, to go to work again, to repair the damage or
to rebuild from the ruins, like the men of Chicago after the
great fire of 1871. In various industries also, in the man-
agement of steam and electricity, on railroads and on
ships, there is daily demand for the same kind of daring
to take necessary risks and even to brave death, as used to
be called for in a military age for the hazards of battle.
In general, when men are friendly with each other,
when their ships can sail freely into all seas and foreign
nations welcome each other to their ports ; when many
travellers from one country can go to another and see
what others can do better than they, such friendly travel
and interchange help to make more wealth. Men who see
superior work abroad, feel the spur of new needs and go to
work to meet them. Men desire foreign fruits and prod-
ucts, — tea and coffee, rice and bananas, — and bring them
to our markets. New ships and steamers must be built to
THE CONDITIONS OF WEALTH. 181
carry the trade of the world; new warehouses must be
erected to accommodate the growing trade; more fields
must be tilled and more mills built to make things with
which to pay the people over the sea for what they send
us. Wealth not only rests upon good faith and friendli-
ness, but the getting of wealth brings distant peoples
together, and teaches them to trust each other rather than
182 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
TO WHOM WEALTH BELONGS, AND HOW IT IS DIVIDED.
It has been seen that labor alone does not make wealth,
as some think. Wealth is partly natural, as the land, the
fisheries, and the ores in the mines. Intelligence, skill,
and taste are necessary in creating a large part of all
wealth. Good morals make wealth by setting higher stand-
ards of living, and making men honest, industrious, and
faithful. If religion enhances the worth of human life,
or furnishes stronger motives for noble conduct, it also
shares so far in creating wealth. Thus property is worth
more in the United States, with its schools, benevolent
institutions, and churches, than in Morocco or Siberia.
The useful. — If a colony of persons were to settle for
the first time in a new country like New Zealand, and take
up land and build towns, it is easy to see that their wealth
would rightfully belong to all who had been in any way
useful to the colony. None of it would strictly belong to
the idle, to the wasteful, to the injurious, if such were
among the colonists. There are various divisions of the
useful in every community, who ought, therefore, to share
in the wealth, according to the part which they play in
Discovery or invention. — In our new colony there
would be certain persons to go out as pioneers and scouts
to discover the natural wealth of the country, the fertile
lands, the fruits, the minerals, the springs and waterfalls.
TO WHOM W KALI II BELONGS. 183
If they di<l nothing but discover, and tell others where to
go, they would deserve their fair share in the wealth which
would conic in their track.
The inventors are like the discoverers. Whoever shows
a new use to which iron or copper can be put is as useful
as if he discovered a new mine. Whoever invents a pro-
- or a machine to save labor, that is, to set workmen free
to do something else, may be as useful as a thousand men.
Production. — The largest part of the working-force of
the community must be employed in producing food and
all kinds of supplies. There must be farmers, black-
smiths, carpenters, operatives in shops and mills, to make
boots and shoes, clothing, tools, etc. Whoever produces
something useful for the community ought to have a share
in the wealth. Artists and painters belong under this
head, if they make things which add to the happiness of
the community. A great deal of domestic work, done by
women, comes under the same head. The woman who
cooks the man's food, or repairs his clothing, is useful in
the same way as the farmer who reaps the wheat.
The work of distribution. — It used often to happen in
old times that there would be plenty in one place, while
men were starving a hundred miles away. The farmer
did not know how to get his produce to market. In a
civilized country, on the contrary, thousands of persons
do nothing else but help distribute supplies where they
are needed. The grocers do this on a small scale in every
village. The great merchants do it by wholesale in the
cities. Their agents travel up and down through the
country, buying and selling.
Transportation. — The distribution of supplies requires
a host <>f teamsters and draymen. The railroads and Bteam-
ships are built largely to carry freight, and so to assist in
184 THE AMEEICAN CITIZEN.
distributing the product of the nation. The farmer need
not now stop working in order to go to market with his
wheat. Multitudes of passengers must also be carried,
mostly to their work and business, and also for their pleas-
ure. An army of men must be detailed for conductors
and brakemen, who also deserve to share in the wealth of
the country. Horses and stables must be kept for the
Protection. — The duty of protecting against violence
and fire cannot be altogether committed to the govern-
ment. There must be private watchmen besides in stores
and mills. There must be patrols on the railroads to pre-
vent accident. Whoever prevents injury ought to share
with those who produce the wealth. The physician or
nurse, too, who defends against disease, claims a rightful
Administration and accounts. — The vast business of
the community needs a certain class of skilled men to
manage and direct. The wise management of a good
engineer, architect, or superintendent may save the labor
of hundreds of men, while poor and shiftless management
may cause enormous loss or waste. The administration of
business needs also a large force of accountants and book-
keepers in offices, factories, banks, warehouses. There
must be many trained heads winch can superintend ac-
counts, and make a multitude of figures tell the truth, or
else, through error or fraud, injustice will somewhere be
done, or supplies will not be distributed w^here they are
Economy ; savings. — Economy is the care of values.
There are numberless holes or leaks through which wealth
is wasted by ignorance or carelessness. Whoever saves
wealth, therefore, whoever stops the leak, whoever keeps
TO WHOM WEALTH BELONGS. 185
* hat another would lose, deserves something of the com-
munity. A housekeeper, for instance, may save enough
food, which another would throw away, to feed one or two
mouths. This is the same as producing the food. The
larger one's responsibility is, the greater the chance of wise
Instruction. — Since intelligence is a condition of
wealth, there must be a certain number of persons detailed
to the service of education. Whoever teaches, or waits on
the teacher, or learns the facts of nature or history, or
makes books, must have a share in the wealth. There
must also be libraries and museums with their attendants.
So, too, whoever teaches good morals, or the laws of faith-
ful conduct, so that men learn to be more just and friendly,
becomes a worker and a sharer along with the direct pro-
ducers of wealth.
Comfort. — Men work more efficiently when they are
made comfortable. Thus a man who has a comfortable
house or lodgings will do more work than if he is badly
housed. There are, therefore, in a civilized country nu-
merous appliances requiring much labor, purely for com-
fort. A very large part of woman's work is to promote
and increase comfort. In general, whoever can help
make men more comfortable at their work, or in their
homes, whoever can lessen drudgery and render labor
more pleasant deserves a share in the wealth.
Recreation. — Every one needs, not merely rest, but
sometimes amusement or play. Men who work hard, like
children who study, need vacation ; they will do more if
they have it. This requires another body of workers.
Others must carry on the work while the first set have
their change. Moreover, there must be those who can
entertain and amuse. More cars and steamboats must be
186 THE AMEBIC AN CITIZEN.
run ; there must be musicians and singers ; there must be
hotels and restaurants. The producers must cheerfully
share with those who enable them to enjoy recreation.
Personal and domestic service. — There are a large
number of persons who need help and service. Sometimes
they are sick or aged persons who cannot help themselves.
Others may be overworked, and therefore require assist-
ance. In many households such assistance is needed in the
care of young children. There are also those whose time
is very valuable. A great engineer like De Lesseps, a great
scholar like Agassiz, a wonderful painter or singer, the
President of the United States, ought not to use up his
time or strength in manual work which some one else could
do for him. We are, therefore, willing to allow certain
persons extra service, provided they need it, by reason
either of their infirmities or the superior value of their
We grudge this kind of help, however, where it is not
needed or deserved. We grudge it to a young person who
had better wait on himself than be waited on by another.
We grudge it to the indolent, who are harmed by it. In
the new colony which we have imagined, in which we
should need every skilful hand, we cannot see why a lazy
person should be entitled to the assistance of another to
wait on him, or why either of them should rightly share in
Luxuries. — There are certain articles of which there
are not enough to go around, or at least not for common
use. They are like the sweetmeats or jellies which are
brought on at a feast. Because they are comparatively
scarce they are more costly than the necessaries or com-
forts, of which there may be enough for all. Many of the
luxuries depend upon the cultivation of taste, and are not
TO WHOM WEALTH BELONGS. 187
luxuries at all to those whose taste is not cultivated. A
gem or a work of art, for example, might not be a luxury
to a savage. There are certain luxuries which seem suit-
able for a feast, when Ave entertain friends, which would
not be wholesome for ordinary use. There are other
luxuries which we should set apart for the sick or the
aged, the use of which would be enervating for the young
or the healthy.
We have already spoken of personal service, in order to
save valuable time or life. There are other such luxuries,
like travel abroad, or more ample houses, or horses and car-
riages, or more costly dress, which we should cheerfully
allow to men and women whose lives are specially useful,
or whose service might be prolonged by extra care. In
other words, there may be lives which the community
would do well to serve specially, as we give a nicer care to
rare, valuable, or delicate tools. The work of furnishing
luxuries ought never, however, to be suffered to lessen the
supply of the necessaries of life, upon which all depend.
Thus, the empire of Rome was on the way to ruin, when
the rich rioted in luxury, while the poor starved.
The family. — A considerable part of woman's work
must always be directly for the family, and particularly in
the nurture of children. The health, the morals, and the
working power of a people are high or low in proportion
to the character, the care, and the wisdom of its mothers.
Whatever improves this care sooner or later enriches the
country. Whoever gives such care to make the children
stronger or better deserves a share of the wealth.
The division of labor. — In a poor or uncivilized coun-
try the same person carries on various kinds of work. The
farmer is his own carpenter and blacksmith ; spinning and
weaving go on in the same house. But this causes great
188 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
waste. As men learn better to help each other, they divide
their work into trades and professions, so that each shall
do what he can do best ; as when boys wish to play a good
game of ball, they choose the one who can catch best to
be catcher. By this plan each worker, who is useful at all,
is entitled to his share of the wealth produced by the whole
people, while the total product becomes greater.
The division of wealth. — We have seen that the wealth
ought strictly to belong to all who are in any way useful
to the community. It is not quite easy to see how to appor-
tion it exactly. Some are very much more useful than
others. Some are useful for a time and less useful after-
wards. Some have far greater needs than others. An
artist, a student, an architect, has needs different from a
farmer. We cannot tell precisely how useful one is as
compared with another. A distiller of strong drink may
not really be useful at all. A skilful teacher may be more
useful than any one knows. Fortune may increase or lessen
the usefulness of the farmer or the fisherman. No tribunal
of men is wise enough, therefore, to divide the income or
the wealth of a people. It would not seem fair to divide
equally, for all do not work equally hard, or need the same
amount. Even at the same table one eats more than an-
other. It would not be just to let each take what he wishes ;
for many, like young children, are greedy and wasteful.
If it were fair for the people of one city or country to
divide their wealth equally, it would be difficult to treat
the people equally who might flock there from poorer and
more barbarous places, in order to share in the wealth of
the richer place.
The law of supply and demand. — The way in which
wealth is really apportioned is according to the supply and
the demand. If, for example, anything like coal is scarce,
TO WHOM WEALTH BELONGS. 189
and the demand for coal is great, the natural rule is that
fewer can have it. or in other words, that a man must work
more hours in order to earn his share of the coal. If flour
is abundant, so that there is plenty to go around, less labor
will provide enough for the family, and there will be so
much more time to provide other things. If little labor
of a certain kind — of carpenters, for instance — is needed,
their pay will be less ; that is, they can have less flour or
coal, or whatever else they need. If, on the other hand,
there are few carpenters, and there is much work for them
to do, so that the} r become very useful, they will have so
much more for their work.
This is the law of supply and demand. The law of
supply and demand works on the playground as well as in
the market. If there are not boys enough to play, even
poor players are welcome ; but if there are plenty of boys,
the poorer players have to stand aside, or do something else
The law of supply and demand declares that some arti-
cles are more useful or valuable than others, as also certain
jnen and women are more useful than others. It brings
the less valuable things more nearly within reach of every
one, but makes the scarcer things, like luxuries, expensive.
It gives to the many persons whose work is less in demand,
or less useful, or whose places could be readily filled, less of
the wealth, but more to those whose places are hard to fill.
The law of supply and demand is a law of thing*, not
of men. Like the fire or the steam, it makes no allow-
ance for men's feelings and needs. As gravitation does
not protect a falling body from hurt, so the law of supply
and demand would not save men from starving. It works
out only a rude kind of justice. It requires to be con-
trolled and supplemented by friendliness.
190 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
As on the ball ground the better and stronger players
will try to make room for the poorer and younger, and to
teach them to play better, so the abler and stronger men
ought to find out how to make room for the less capable
and intelligent. We shall have occasion to speak further
of supply and demand in another chapter.
Till: INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY. 191
THE INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY.
We can imagine a people holding their wealth in com-
mon, as a club of schoolboys own their bats and balls
together. Among a savage people like the North Ameri-
can Indians, a considerable part of the wealth is common
to all. The tribe hold the corn-fields. When game is
taken, all the village share ; a number of families will
often live in the same house. As long as any one has
food, his neighbors, or even strangers, will come and eat.
Difficulties in holding wealth in common. — There is
never mucli wealth in a savage tribe. There is little
encouragement to the more enterprising members of the
tribe to work hard and to lay up stores of provisions, where
the lazy and improvident may come in to devour and waste.
Few would be likely to build new and better houses, or to
take the trouble to have a garden, or to plant trees, unless
they could hope to enjoy the reward of their work. Men
who hold things in common are like children playing to-
gether with blocks. It is hard for one to make anything
with the blocks unless the others agree, or unless the
blocks are divided.
The beginnings of property. — Property is that which
is one's own, which no other person has a right to take
away. Property begins even among savages, as it begins
among children. Thus one's clothes nn* one's own. It
would obviously be inconvenient for more than one person
192 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
to claim the same clothes. So of one's implements and
weapons, the axe or the bow and arrows, especially such
as one makes himself. So of the ornaments and decora-
tions, the shells or gems, or bits of metal that any one
finds. "These are mine," says the child, with a sense of
injustice, if any one else claims them. So of the Arab's
horses which he has reared and tended, or of the flocks
which he pastures.
Differences of men in tastes and capacity. — Property
also begins with men, as among children, from their differ-
ences of taste and capacity. One is fonder than another
of shells or bright colors, and therefore takes more trouble
to collect them. One cares more than another for horses
or cattle, and has therefore better success in raising them.
One is fond of ornaments, and carves a beautiful handle to
his axe or knife, while another does not think the carving
worth his trouble. The ornamented axe is the rightful
property of the man who had the taste and skill to make
it. So one man loves books and pictures, and is willing
to work in order to obtain them. They ought to be his,
then, rather than the property of another who does not
care for them.
Property by earning. — Suppose now that one man
works for another. The man who has a herd of cattle
hires another to help him take care of them, and pays him
in cattle or in skins, or money. Here is property in wha*
a man earns by his labor or skill. This rightly belongs to
the man who has worked for it, and not to others who have
not worked, or who perhaps did not care to work. Indeed,
it would promote laziness in the men who did not work,
if the cattle or the money which another had worked for
were to be shared in common with them.
Property by exchange. — It might be that the man
THE INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY. 193
with the herd of cattle could raise wheat. Suppose he
exchanges some of his young cattle, or some of the bright
gems that he has found among the hills, for a supply of
wheat. This, too, is his property. It could not rightly
belong to others who had sat still and not helped to raise
the wheat. Moreover, it would hurt their character to
claim a share in what they had not helped to produce.
Property by gift or inheritance. — It would be fair for
the man who had the wheat or the horses to make a gift
to his friend or his son. The gift would then be the prop-
erty of the friend, and not of any one else. A great deal
of the wealth in existence is handed down from parents to
children, and belongs to the children by inheritance.
Property by natural genius. — Suppose a man has the
genius to invent a useful machine, or to write a valuable
book, or one has a beautiful voice, or can play the violin.
That which any one can make or do that others cannot do
is his property ; that is, it rightly belongs to him, in the
same way as his eyes or his hands are his own. It would
not be right for the family or the nation to claim this man's
genius as theirs, or to compel him to write books, or to
sing for them whenever they pleased. So the rewards or
the pay which he received in return for his genius would
be fairly his. Other men would have no claim to compel
him to divide or to share with them. Neither would it be
honorable in them to think that they had such a claim.
On the other hand, it would be shameful in him to with-
hold the gifts of his genius, or to extort unreasonable pay
Property by accident or good fortune. — If a fisherman
lias a lucky catch, we say that it his. The unlucky fisher-
men, or those who do not go fishing at all, have no claim
to force him to share his good fortune. They will take
194 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
their turn at fortune another time. Men enjoy their fish-
ing better so : they are also more watchful and daring than
they would be if their prizes were taken away from them.
So if a man finds a nugget of gold or a mine on his land.
We say it is his. If we could rightly compel him to share
it, we should not know how to divide it, for it would no
more belong to all the persons in the town than to all in
the state or the nation, or even to all in the world.
So also if a man has property, such as wheat or a house,
which rises suddenly in value. We call this increase his
property, although he may have done nothing to earn it.
For as before, if we demanded that he should share it, we
should not know how fairly to divide it. If we claimed
that it ought to belong to our city, the nation might claim
it equally, or even other nations. Moreover, as the man
has to bear his losses when his wheat or his house falls in
value, it seems right that he should enjoy the exceptional
advantage when the value rises.
Property by possession. — Suppose one found some of
Captain Kidd's treasure, it would be impossible to restore
it to its rightful owners. It would, therefore, be' the prop-
erty of its discoverer. So also in case one had inherited
property from an ancestor, who had long ago made his
money by fraud, or by the African slave trade. It would
still be the man's property, since no others could rightly
Property in land. — We have mostly considered so
far such kinds of property as may be moved, or carried
upon the person. Movable property, such as clothes,
furniture, ornaments, cattle, produce, money, etc., is called
personal property. This also includes paper and certificates
of property, such as bonds and bank shares. There is
another kind of property in land. The land and the build-
THE INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY. 195
inga upon it constitute "real estate." What gives any one
a private right to own the land ?
When Robinson Crusoe came to his lonely island, al-
though savages sometimes roamed over it, they were not
using it, and did not therefore rightly own it. Crusoe,
accordingly, took what he needed of it, partly for pasture
and partly for tillage and garden. Suppose now that
another ship had been wrecked on the island, and its crew
had come ashore. It w T onld neither be fair for him to
claim to own the whole island, and to make them pay him
for the wild land ; nor, on the other hand, for them to take
from him any of the land that he was really using.
Suppose, finally, after the best land had all been taken
up, another company of men should come ashore. It would
certainly seem hard that they should not have as good
lands as the earlier comers ; but it would not be right for
them to demand the fields that had already been occupied,
cleared, and improved. As, when strangers come to the
table at the hotel, it is well, if those who are already seated
are willing, to move closer and accommodate the later
ones, but otherwise they must wait for the second and per-
haps poorer table.
As long as there is plenty of land, as in most of the
United States, there is no difficulty about the private
ownership of it. So, also, if every one used all his land, and
if every one had got it fairly in the first place, there would
be less question about the rightful ownership of it. But
often the land was acquired in war or by violence ; or by
injustice, as when the Highland lords in Scotland dispos-
sessed the clansmen of land which right fully belonged to
all the tribe ; or by a fiction, as when the king of England
granted or sold vast lands in America which did not
belong to him.
196 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The laws also and custom have allowed men to take up
much more land than they could use, and to keep it unem-
ployed even when others needed it.
When wrongs have been done, it is hard to right them
at once without doing more wrong. For the present own-
ers of the lands that were once wrongly acquired may have
honestly paid for them, and may really use them. Even
if it were fair to take away that which one had purchased
in good faith, it would be impossible to say to whom it
should now be given.
In general, property in land is right and fair, in case the
community have found on the whole that the custom of
permitting such property is a public advantage. If, for
example, there proves to be more enterprise and better care
of the land when each man is free to acquire and use it
as he pleases, than when a whole village, as in barbarous
times, owned it together, it is a sufficient reason for the
custom that it works to the advantage of the community.
If, however, it could be clearly shown that some other
custom of using the land would be better for all, and would
at the same time be freer of objections and injustice, every
one ought to be willing to adopt it.
The right of eminent domain limits the right of indi-
viduals in land. — Property in land is always held subject
to the needs of the State or community. Thus if the gov-
ernment required a piece of land for public buildings, or
if a new street or a railroad needed to be laid out through
a man's farm, the individual has no right to insist upon
keeping his land in the face of a public necessity. But he
is entitled to fair compensation, as for any other property.
Common property. — There is much wealth which is
owned by persons in common. Thus several farmers may
own a threshing-machine or a creamery. A great number
THE INSTITUTION' OF PROPERTY. 197
of persons unite in establishing a savings bank. We have
already seen that all the people of a town or city own the
public buildings and schools, the parks and the streets.
Every newcomer who is enrolled as a citizen, and every
child born in the city, becomes a sharer in this property on
equal terms with the rest. So with the property of the
State, which every citizen is a sharer in. So with the vast
property of the nation, including great tracts of lands in
the Territories. Our government claims such lands as
belonging to the American people, and not to people in
Asia or Africa, because the land is within our boundaries ;
precisely as a farmer claims the land for which he holds a
All, too, become sharers in the knowledge, the inven-
tions, the discoveries, by which each generation inherits
the labor and thought of all previous time. The value of
this common knowledge is immeasurable.
Property and the public interest. — We respect private
property for two reasons. One reason is our regard for
the individual. We respect his claims to his various be-
longings as we would wish our own claims to be consid-
ered by him. A second reason is the public good. There
will be more work, industry, energy, and thrift, if we allow
individuals the freedom to own and use and give away
their own property, than if we forbid them to have any-
thing of their own. This is the general experience of
mankind. It is the same in a nation as in a family. The
whole family will have more if each member of it can have
his own things, than if no one can call anything his own.
So the community will create and possess more wealth,
and all will therefore be likely to be better off, if each is
reasonably free to acquire and own property, than if all
the property were held in common.
198 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
If, however, it is discovered that there is any kind of
property, like turnpikes, bridges, or waterworks, which it
is better for the interest of all for individuals not to hold
privately, it is fair for the individuals, in such case, to
consent to let the public acquire such property in common,
only in such way as to be just to the former private owners.
Responsibility for property. — We have seen in gov-
ernment that every official does his work best when he is
directly responsible for his conduct. We respect property,
likewise, because we thus make every one directly responsi-
ble for what is his own. If the boy has his own clothes and
hat, he and no one else will be bound to take care of them.
If he has his own allowance, he will be bound to keep ac-
count of it, and not to waste or lose it. So if a man has his
own property, he learns to use and save it. If he has his
own land, he is responsible for the care he takes of it : he
will take pleasure in tending and beautifying it ; he will be
likely to put permanent improvement upon it, in clearing
and draining it ; he can afford to build a substantial house,
where an Arab would only set up a tent. To respect a
man's property is thus to make him responsible for it.
And responsibility develops his character and makes more
of a man. Whereas if he is too slovenly to take care of
his own, he would be unlikely, like the savage, to take
good care of the common property.
HONEST MONEY. 199
Men do not trade together long before they invent
something to measure the value of wealth. Money is that
by which they make such measurement, as they measure
distance by the length of a pole, or by a yard-stick. They
begin with a very rude kind of money, such as wampum
or beads or cattle. Thus an American Indian would sell
a valuable package of furs for so many strings of wampum.
The precious metals, and especially silver and gold, have
been the chosen forms of money among most civilized
nations for thousands of years. In early times the money
was weighed. Afterwards it was coined ; that is, a bit or
piece of a certain weight was stamped by the sovereign or
Changes in the value of money. — It would have been
very convenient if there had been some one kind of metal
which was always of uniform value. But there is no such
metal. The supply of gold or silver, like the supply of
other things, varies from one time to another. The open-
ing of new mines or fresh discoveries of the precious
metals, tend to lower their value, as a large harvest lowers
the price of wheat. On the other hand, increasing trade
causes a demand for more money, and tends to absorb the
supply. Ignorant people, as in the East, often hoard or
hide their money, as though it were buried again in the
mine. There is a changing demand, also, for the gold and
200 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
silver for other purposes besides money, as for articles of
ornament or luxury. The same amount or weight of gold
or silver will not therefore buy as much at one period as
The double or single standard of value. — It has been
common to use both gold and silver money, though gold
is worth much more than silver; unfortunately the two
metals vary with respect to each other like all other values.
Thus gold is estimated to have been worth eleven times as
much as silver in the fifteenth century, fifteen times as
much at the close of the eighteenth century, and more
than eighteen times as much in 1879. There have been
further changes since. Thus, one common silver dollar,
if melted down, would not now buy nearly one hundred
cents' worth of labor or produce.
A moral question. — When government stamps a coin,
and makes it "legal tender," that is, good money to pay
debts, the stamp is a sort of guarantee or pledge that
the coin has as much value in it as it says on its face.
Thus the gold eagle says, "I am honestly worth a fixed
sum in the markets of the world." But if the government
should make eagles with one-fifth less gold in them than
before, or one-fifth less than the English or the Germans
put into their coins, and still mark " ten dollars " on the
coin, it would not tell the truth. So, too, if the govern-
ment coins silver dollars, and puts less value into this coin
than it puts into its gold dollar. The silver dollar would
not tell the truth, unless it has in it as much value as the
gold dollar contains.
The money of commerce. — Governments coin money,
but the commerce of the world fixes its value. For
commerce, in her great markets, like London, where the
business of the world meets and is settled, asks of all
HONEST MONEY. 201
commodities, and the coins of every nation also, What is
their real worth ? A government may put a false mark
on a coin or mix alloy with the metal, but commerce
weighs and tests the coin, and will not give more for it
than it really is worth.
For the present, the standard of commerce seems to be
gold. This is because the great commercial nations use
this metal in settling their accounts. Even when they
use silver coinage along with the gold, as a matter of fact,
they refer their values to the gold basis. Thus the United
States practically counts values, not in silver dollars, worth
perhaps eighty cents, but in gold dollars that correspond
to the gold sovereign of London. When money has to be
sent back and forth between nations, the gold is also more
convenient, being far less bulky.
Paper money. — Although a dollar means a certain
weight of precious metal, most of the money in use con-
sists of paper bills. There is, in fact, risk and inconven-
ience in carrying coin, and especially in doing a large
business with it. If, for example, all the wheat and cotton
of the West and South had to be paid for in metallic
money, there would be great cost and often loss, merely
in sending the vast weight of coin thousands of miles.
Civilized men have therefore invented paper money of
various kinds as a substitute for coin.
Bank bills. — A bank, for instance, which has coin in
its vaults may issue bills, which are really written promises
or orders, for so much coin. The use of these bills or
orders depends upon the trust or confidence which men
have in the integrity and honor of the bankers. As tong
as men believe that the bankers will keep their promises
and pay the coin when requested, they do not care for the
coin, but find the bills more convenient. In order that the
202 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
people may be protected from loss, it is the custom for
the government to superintend the banks which issue bills.
They are not allowed to issue too many bills ; that is, to
make more promises than they are able to keep.
Checks and drafts. — Besides bank bills there are mil-
lions of money in private paper orders which are sent by
mail, or pass from hand to hand. Thus, a merchant in
New York, instead of sending a great roll of bills to pay
for lumber or iron, deposits the money in a bank, and
writes a check or order upon the bank for the amount of
his debt. If the merchant is honest, the check is the same
as money, and another bank in Michigan or Tennessee
will accept it from the lumber or iron dealer. Or, a
merchant in New York wishing to pay for his goods in
Bordeaux, will get a draft or order for so much money
from a banker in his own city upon a banker in London.
This draft upon a well-known and honorable bank will be
as good as money anywhere in the world where ships go.
Thus orders for money become themselves a kind of money.
The orders may even be sent by telegraph over the conti-
nent or under the ocean. Thus a bank in Chicago, which
is known in London or Paris, may telegraph an order to
pay some American student a sum of money which the
American's father had deposited in his bank at home.
Government and paper money. — The government of
the United States was obliged to borrow on an enormous
scale to pay the expenses of the^Civil War. Besides other
methods of borrowing, hundreds of millions of dollars in
bills were issued. These bills were the promises or pledges
of the government to pay as many dollars in coin as was
printed on the face of the bill. The bills were used as
money to pay for supplies and the wages of soldiers. The
government, however, was not able to keep its promises
HONEST MONEY. 203
and to pay specie, that is, the real coined money of com-
merce, to merchants and others who wanted it. On the
contrary, the quantity of paper notes was so great that
some feared lest, as in the case of the continental cur-
rency, or the paper money of the Revolutionary War, the
bills would never be paid. It therefore happened, finally,
that almost three paper dollars were required to get the
value of one gold dollar. A yard of cloth worth one dol-
lar cost almost three paper dollars. The value of the paper
dollar varied with every victory or defeat of the national
arms. The gold and silver were hoarded away or sent
abroad to pay the merchants' debts. This was because the
paper dollar no longer told the truth.
Specie payments. — After the war, as soon as confi-
dence was restored that the government could keep its
promises, the paper money rose in value. The yard of
cloth that had sold for nearly three dollars could now be
had for, perhaps, a dollar and a quarter. At last govern-
ment resolved to make the paper dollar tell the truth
again. It was announced that- any one who wished might
have gold coin at the Treasury in exchange for the paper
bills. But very few persons now desired to draw the
bulky gold, since the paper dollar at once became as good
as the gold to buy the yard of cloth.
Gold and silver certificates. — Besides the notes of the
government or its promises to pay, other bills or certifi-
cates have been issued which entitle the holder to so many
gold dollars, and again another class which entitle the
holder to so many silver dollars, deposited in the Treasury
vaults. These certificates are also as good as money, and
much more convenient.
A national danger. — It will be seen that our govern-
ment has gold dollars which correspond to the money of
204 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
commerce, containing the precise value marked on the face
of them ; secondly, silver dollars, stamped by the govern-
ment, but at present containing less than their true value ;
thirdly, silver and nickel currency, used merely for con-
venience, but not containing nearly the worth stamped
upon it ; and, fourthly, paper notes and certificates, worth
nothing in themselves, but guaranteed by the wealth and
honor of the nation. These different kinds of money all
circulate together as long as the government honestly
keeps in its vaults sufficient gold coin — the money of
commerce — to enable every one who has silver or paper
dollars to come and get an equal number of gold dollars,
if he needs them, to pay for goods abroad. If, however,
at any time, the government should refuse to give the
merchant the real value in gold in exchange for the silver
or the paper, the same thing would happen as in the Civil
War: the silver dollar and the paper would cease to tell
the truth ; the yard of cloth would rise in price ; all values
It would be precisely as though the government, like
the despots of old times, had clipped the coin or mixed
alloy with it, so as to make a new kind of dollar of less
worth. The true dollars, such as the commerce of the
world buys and sells with, part company with the false or
debased dollars, and disappear from the hands of the peo-
ple whose government does not keep its faith or make its
money tell the truth.
CAPITAL, CREDIT, AND INTEREST. 205
CAPITAL, CREDIT, AND INTEREST.
We may suppose a number of men to go on a fishing-
voyage. It is not enough that they possess skill and
strength : they also need boats, fishing-tackle, and a stock
of various supplies to live upon while they are gone.
The wealth which is required to begin any enterprise, or
to carry work through, is called capital.
Thus if a man proposes to be a farmer, he cannot suc-
ceed without some capital. If his land were given to him
for nothing, he would still need farming-tools, cattle, and
provisions enough to support him till he got his first
In the case of a great enterprise, like a factory or a rail-
road, an enormous capital must often be laid out to pur-
chase materials and hire the labor of a large force of men
before any return is made to those who expend their
A barbarous people can make little progress, because
there is not wealth or capital enough among them to draw
upon in order to feed and clothe workmen. As long as
every one is poor, men have to supply their own daily
necessities. There must at least be laid by an accumula-
tion of food before any great work can be undertaken.
The accumulation of capital. — Whoever produces more
than he consumes accumulates capital ; for example, a far-
mer may produce food enough lor a dozen families, or a
206 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
shoemaker can make shoes enough for a neighborhood.
Wherever men labor, their industry accumulates capital,
or produces and lays up a supply of produce or material to
be drawn upon for further work. In the most simple
society, the harvest of each year is the capital to provide
against the needs of another year.
The use of machinery, and especially of steam, water,
and electric power, enables a few workmen to do the work
of armies of men, and so to accumulate capital on a grand
Credit. — A man does not always need to have accumu-
lated capital himself. If he can work, and is honest, he
may find some one willing to make him a certain advance
of money or provisions on the expectation that he will do
work or business enough to repay. The amount of this
advance is called his credit, and depends on his ability and
character. Thus if he is a skilful fisherman, he may find
some one who will lend him a boat. If he has at the same
time a piece of property, as a lot of land, his credit will
be greater; and some one will trust him with a vessel,
without his needing to sell his property.
Thus a farmer owning his land and buildings may not
only work his farm, but through his credit obtain additional
capital to make improvements, and increase his products.
Or the owner of a mill may go to the bank and get
mone} r to buy raw material or to expend in wages to his
men till his returns come back from the sale of his goods.
All this is made possible by credit, or the trust which
men repose in one another's good faith in keeping their
Corporations. — Many individuals, each with small
earnings or savings, often combine together, and trust
their capital to directors or trustees who manage for all as
CAPITAL, CREDIT, AND INTEREST. 207
they would for themselves. Tims large masses of capital
may be employed to use machinery, and pay many work-
men, and both to produce and to save to better advantage
than could be done with a small capital. Railroads, gas
companies, cotton mills, savings banks, and many other
corporations are formed by this kind of union among many
individuals. These corporations for massing and using
capital are made possible only where there is a consider-
able number of able and honorable men, who can be trusted
to hold and manage the money of others.
Profits. — In most kinds of industry — in farming, for
example — labor produces something more than its bare
equivalent. There is a natural increase besides the cost
of production. We call this surplus the profit. It is the
encouragement which nature gives when man begins to
work. Thus a farmer ought to be better off at the end of
the year than he was at the beginning. There will be an
increase of cattle and sheep and fowls. The amount of this
increase will depend, not only upon his skill and intelli-
gence, but also upon the capital which he has at his dis-
posal. If he has money enough, he can employ extra
labor to drain his boggy land ; he can fertilize his fields ;
he can buy machinery, and harvest larger crops. For
nature, by showers and sunshine and the richness in the
soil, will always add something to encourage his enterprise ;
as, on the other hand, if he is lazy and dull, nature will
prod him with various discomforts to urge him to labor
and to learn.
So in other kinds of industry. Besides barely enough
to support life, the patient fisherman will bear home a
profit which lie can dispose of to enable him to add to
his capital. If he has already capital enough to buy
the best sails and fishing-tackle, and intelligence to direct
208 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
a number of men, he can increase the profits of his whole
The merchant, likewise, who contrives to bring supplies
of goods to the points where men need them most — from
the farms where the owners are burning the corn for fuel
to the towns where, without the corn, people would starve
— will get more than the bare cost of his business and his
In short, the whole community, if intelligent and indus-
trious, will do better than merely to live ; it will be en-
riched by the natural increase or profit which nature gives
for labor wisely expended.
This profit will be larger in proportion to the skill,
education, patience, industry, and integrity of the people.
It will tend to come to those who show these qualities,
but will be reduced if many of the people lack them. It
will not generally fall into the hands of those who are
dull, incapable, shiftless, dishonest, or unwilling to work ;
it will certainly not stay long with such people.
Rent and interest. — We may suppose that a skilful
young fisherman borrows a boat and tackle of a widow
whose husband has been drowned, and goes fishing. When
he returns, he shares his catch of fish with the men who
went to help him, and with the woman who owns the boat.
This is her interest in the fishing, on account of her boat.
This would be the simplest form of interest. It would be
the same in fact, however, if the fisherman, instead of pay-
ing a share of his catch in fish, engages to pay her a fixed
sum for the use of the boat.
It would still be the same in case the fisherman, instead
of hiring the boat, borrows from the widow the value of
the boat in money. The young fisherman can then buy
a boat for himself, and pay the widow the same sum for
CAPITAL, CREDIT, AND INTEREST. 209
the use of her money, which he might have paid for the
Likewise, if the widow had a farm which her husband
had cleared and drained, or which he had paid for out of
his earnings, some one might like to borrow the farm, and
pay her a share of his harvest. He might thus do better
for himself than if he took up wild lands. Or one might
borrow of the widow in another way ; for she might have
sold the farm outright for money. He could then borrow
the money that her farm brought, and buy a new farm for
himself, and pay her so much every year for the use of
the money, instead of paying for the use of the land.
By the use of the widow's capital, the fisherman or the
farmer increases his product ; without it he could not have
made so much. He therefore, in fairness, shares with the
owner of the capital. If he borrows a thing, a piece of
property, or land, the share that he gives is usually called
the rent. But if he borrows money, the return upon it is
called interest. As we have before seen, money is practi-
cally an order to pay things or property, so that the bor-
rower of money really borrows the things, whether boats,
supplies, provisions, or materials, that he purchases with
Thus the farmer who borrows money to improve his
barn or buy stock really borrows fertilizers or cattle. The
money is merely a convenience in making the exchanges.
When at the end of the year he realizes larger harvests on
account of these improvements, he owes a share as interest
to the person whose labor or whose saving had enabled
him to have the use of the money.
So with the mill that lias borrowed money to buy cotton
to make into cloth. Part of the returns must sro to the
savings bank; that is, to thu persons who had gone without
210 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
the use of the money themselves to lend to the mill. They
deserve their share as well as the workmen who furnished
the labor, or the superintendent who managed with his
brains to make the mill a success.
The rate of interest. — It might be agreed that the in-
terest or rent should depend upon the amount of the prod-
uct, whether more or less, of the fishing-boat or the farm.
The lender should have a certain share, and the workman
another share, and the manager who borrowed the capital
still another. This is done in some cases. All, then, would
share in the risks and in the profits.
But suppose the widow who lends the boat or the money
prefers to take a smaller fixed rent or interest rather than to
share in the risks of the business, and sometimes, perhaps,
fail to get anything. This is usually the case. The bank,
for instance, lends its money at so much per cent; for
instance, six dollars a year for every hundred. The bor-
rower gives security, as a mortgage upon his farm, and
takes all the risks himself. The bank then gets a regular
return for its money to divide among the persons who have
trusted their savings to its care. The borrower has all the
profits, after paying his interest and his men.
How interest is fixed. — The amount of interest upon
money, or the rent of capital, varies like all other prices.
It depends upon the amount of money to be lent, whether
it is plenty or scarce ; upon the times, whether they are
peaceful or stormy ; upon the demand for money, whether
few or many want to borrow ; upon the security that can
be given, whether there is much or little risk of being
repaid ; upon the prosperity of the community where the
money is used, whether the profits of business there are
large or small. Thus the same money which will only
bring three per cent when loaned to the government in
CAPITAL, CREDIT, AND INTEREST. 211
London might bring five or six per cent if loaned to a pri-
vate person; or, sent to a new growing country like
Australia, might get ten per cent or more. If the lender
shares at all in the risk, he also shares in the larger profits.
If he wishes perfect security, and the borrower takes all
the chances, he must be content with a small regular share.
Usury. — Interest now means the price paid for the use
of capital ; but it once had a bad name, — umry. For in old
times, before the science of money was understood, many
supposed that it might be wrong to exact interest upon
money, although no one saw any harm in taking interest,
that is, rent for property or land or boats. Money was
scarce ; and many lenders also were extortionate, and took
cruel advantage of their debtors. Laws were therefore
often passed, forbidding more than a certain rate of inter-
est. To take higher interest than the law allowed was
then called usury. But these laws never did any more
good than the laws which governments used to pass to fix
the prices of other things. In many of our States such
laws still remain, although they are constantly disregarded.
The fact is, that all prices of money, land, labor, or
products depend upon u the law of supply and demand."
Ten per cent may therefore be as fair interest on the Pacific
coast, where the demand is great, as five per cent is in New
York. In New York, too, money may be better worth six
or seven per cent in a good year of business than five per
cent in a very dull year. Neither can any legislature
compel a man to lend his money or his land unless a fair
return is offered hi in.
The widow, for instance, will not risk her property with
the fisherman if she can do better with it herself. Neither
would it be fair to require her to lend it at six per rent if
he were able to make twelve per cent with it.
212 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
In general, the rate of interest upon good security tends
to diminish. This is because civilization produces such
large capital and vast credit that all reasonable enterprises
can get what they need.
If interest is low, other things are also likely to be low ;
and no one has to pay so much for hiring his house or for
the cost of living. But if the interest is high, every one
who has a dollar in the savings bank or a single share in a
corporation shares in the increase. This is because the
whole community is linked together, so that whatever
affects the whole affects each one.
Should the government lend money to its citizens? —
It is sometimes thought that the government ought to use
its credit and borrow money to loan to needy citizens, for
instance, to poor farmers, at a low rate of interest. There
are two serious objections to this. One is that the govern-
ment, that is, all the people would often be in danger of
losing both principal and interest. The second objection
is that, when merchants and others must pay five and six
per cent, it is not fair to help any class of the people to
borrow money for two or three per cent. This would be
the same as giving presents to one part of the people at
the expense of all.
LABOR AND COMPETITION. 213
LABOB AND COMPETITION.
The law of life. — The general rule is, that men must
work for their living. The amount of work required may
vary with men's wants, or with the climate in which they
live. A native of Samoa may get all the breadfruit and
cocoanuts that he needs with very little effort. But the
higher the standard of civilization, the more things men
want ; and the more labor therefore becomes necessary.
The use of machinery, with the forces of steam and elec-
tricity, does not serve to change the general law. For the
more men learn to save by the use of machines, the more
their needs increase, so that the demand for labor still con-
tinues. Thus when cloth could only be woven slowly by
hand, men could have very little. But now that water
power or steam can be made to weave cloth, every one
wants much more, so that men and women still have to
work for their clothing.
The law that men must work for their living, though at
first it may seem severe, proves to be a kindly law; as
on the playground, those who join in the play, not only
are stronger, but enjoy more than those who only look on
and watch the others. Even persons confined in prison
must have a certain amount of work in order to keep
Labor and wages. — If any large number of people
should stop working, the whole supply of the nation would
214 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
be cut down. Those who did work, as well as those who
did not, could not have as much. Wages and salaries,
therefore, would fall. On the contrary, it is evident that
the larger the number of the workers is, and the more they
accomplish, — the fewer the drones in the hive, — the greater
is the product, and the more on the whole every one will
have. All wages, therefore, will tend to rise. It is the
same with a nation as it is with the household of a farmer.
If all his children work, they will have produce to sell,
and will grow prosperous. The reason is seen here why
wages are higher in the United States than in Europe. It
is because our whole product is greater.
Labor and wealth. — Moreover, besides the increase of
men's needs and wants, there is a constant increase in their
numbers, requiring new lands to be opened, new houses
to be built, and new mills to saw lumber or weave cloth.
If all the wealth of the richest nation were divided equally,
it would therefore last but a short time before men would
have to go to work to make more wealth. The richest
nation is thus only in the condition of a farmer who has
on hand a rather better supply of tools, stock, and farm
buildings. But because he has this better supply, even
more care is required to keep them in order, and more
constant labor in using them. Thus, though the richer
farmer lives better than his slovenly neighbor, he must
still work equally hard or even harder, like the winning
crew in a race.
A common fallacy. — It is sometimes imagined that it
would be better for those who work if their numbers could
be restricted. They fancy that they could then have better
pay. Or it is thought that the workmen would be better
off if they worked fewer hours a day. There are excep-
tional cases where this may seem true for a little while.
LABOR AND COMPETITION. 215
But it is obvious that the fewer laborers there are, the less
will be the product of the nation. If only half as many
men make shoes, there will be fewer shoes for all. If ten
million men work, and five million are idle, the latter will
have to be fed by the others, with less food to go around.
In short, the more intelligent labor is used, the greater
must be the product which all will at last share.
The reduction of the hours of labor. — On the other
hand, there is a limit beyond which men do not work effi-
ciently. They will not work to advantage if wearied,
oppressed, or discontented. Free men will do more work
in eight hours, putting good- will or interest into their
work, than in ten or twelve hours of slave labor.
The general duty of labor. — It follows that every one
ought to contribute his share towards the sum of the
product of the nation. For if any one only eats and
drinks and enjoys, but does not labor, he makes the nation
poorer. To work is indeed a necessity if one is poor, but
it is an honorable obligation equally upon the rich. That
a man is rich, gives him no right to consume or lessen the
wealth of the nation. On the contrary, his wealth, like
the richer farmer's tools and stock, is an added reason why
he should do a larger share for the good of the whole.
Different kinds of laborers. — The word laborer prop-
erly covers all kinds of service in behalf of the household
or the community. In the larger sense not only the miner,
the stevedore, the farmer, or the blacksmith, but also the
clerk, the book-keeper, the teacher, the superintendent of
the mill, the president of the bank, the trustees of prop-
erty, are laborers or w r orkmen. Socrates the philosopher,
and Tennyson the poet, Macaulay the historian, and Dar-
win the naturalist, all have added each in his way to the
resources of mankind.
216 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Disturbances in industry. — It is difficult to divide the
labor of the nation equally, so that each shall do his fair
share. For some are more willing or more capable than
others. Some are quicker in finding their proper places.
If any part of the body fails to take its share of the bur-
den, strain comes upon all the rest. Moreover, if the body
is exposed to sudden change, the circulation is checked
and one suffers a chill. So in a great industrial society,
any sudden change of conditions is likely to cause disturb-
ance. Thus there are frequent changes in the demands
for labor. There will be a need of wheat, or of boots and
shoes, and many will start wheat-farms, or go into the shoe-
shops, till presently there is more wheat or more boots and
shoes than are called for. Every new invention or im-
provement, however beneficial in the long run, is apt to
cause disturbance and inconvenience for a time. Thus if
the farmer buys a reaping-machine, he will not need to
hire so many men, who may not at first find a new employ-
ment. The use of steam has multiplied the power of the
world, but it has also caused a great deal of disturbance
to the old-fashioned kinds of industry that worked by
So again, there may often be too many men trying to
get a living in the cities, where expenses are greater
than in the country. Or there may be more lawyers or
architects than the nation needs till it grows larger, and
the extra lawyers need to find something else to do. This
irregularity causes inconvenience and trouble and often
Business crises. — It is said that "there are tides in the
affairs of men." So business and work have their high
and low tides. This is partly because men have not yet
learned to see far enough ahead to provide exactly the
LABOR AND COMPETITION. 217
amount of wheat, iron, and other materials that they need.
There are not likely to be too many people to work, but
there may easily be too many workers in certain industries.
The law of supply and demand acts in such cases to cut
down profits and wages, and to turn men from employ-
ments where they are less needed to those where they are
more needed. Meanwhile, during the process of change,
work stops, thousands of men are thrown out of employ-
ment, less wealth is therefore created, business becomes
dull, merchants fail, the mills which are not well man-
aged go into bankruptcy, and new enterprises are checked.
Thus whenever men work too fast or unwisely, in any
direction, a period of reaction is likely to set in till the
light proportions can be adjusted ; as when one uses the
muscles of his arm to exhaustion, and rest must be enforced
till they recover their tone.
The free system. — Whenever men are quite free to
get a living or to pursue wealth as each chooses, this is
commonly called competition. This really means free in-
dustry. Thus any one may choose his own trade or pro-
fession, or if he does not like it, he may change. He is
free to work hard or not; he may make his own bar-
gains and set his price upon the value of his labor or his
products. He is free to acquire property to any extent,
or to part with it. He is froe to invest his money wher-
ever he thinks that it will bring him the largest return, in
the land or on the sea, or to hoard it, if he can afford to
be so foolish. If any one by working harder, or by his
skill, or by intelligence, can make better wages than his
neighbor, he is free to live better ; as his neighbor is free
to follow his example and to learn to excel him in turn.
If any one has a genius like Rothschild, for handling and
managing money, he is free to exercise his genius, as an-
other is free to handle his tools.
218 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The law of free industry. — Any one is free to work
when he chooses and at such terms as he can make for
himself, provided he does not interfere with the rights of
other men. He is not free to snatch what belongs to
them, or, being stronger, to push them aside, or trip them
up, or hinder their freedom. As he may not interfere with
them by force, so he ought not to hinder or oppress them
by fraud, or by getting laws passed to the disadvantage of
others ; as on the playground, the rule is that all boys
shall be free to play as they like, only so as not to inter-
fere with each other's games.
The good side of freedom. — The freer men are to
choose their work and to use and enjoy its results, the
more work they are willing to do. Their energy and
enterprise are called out, their wits are sharpened, their
hopes are stirred. If any one wins unusual success, others
are encouraged to try better methods. If any one enjoys
his money, his neighbors are urged to work the harder,
that they and their children may have the same enjoyment.
Thus every one accomplishes more work in a condition of
freedom, and the whole nation is richer, than if customs,
like slavery and caste, or a system of laws, fettered and
restricted men and compelled them to work according to
rule. This is on the same principle that children enjoy
their sports better, when left to themselves, than if a
j)arent or teacher were to meddle and make rules for them.
As a matter of fact, wherever men are thus free to
work, to earn, and to save or use their earnings as they
please, the capable, the industrious, the temperate, and the
intelligent everywhere tend to rise to prosperity. A con-
siderable and increasing class become " capitalists " by the
value of their houses or shops, or the amount of money in
the bank. The skilful are always in demand, and at good
LABOR AND COMPETITION. 219
wages. In fact, a day's labor never purchased so much in
supplies as it docs in the United States, where we use the
free or competitive system of work.
The moral side. — Besides, when men labor, earn, and
save or spend with perfect freedom, they develop many
moral qualities, such as patience, self-reliance, self-sacrifice,
venturesomeness, integrity, respect for others' rights, gen-
erosity. The slaves of the kindest master could not develop
these qualities so well. If a committee or government of
the wisest men could manage and make rules for the rest,
and provide for every one's necessities, men would not learn
to exhibit these sterling qualities of manhood so well as
by being thrown upon their own resources. We know
this also from the fact that the strongest characters have
been worked out in brave and patient conflict, often with
difficult circumstances ; whereas the men who have never
been thrown upon their own resources rarely amount to
Certain evils. — If some are free to work hard and earn
more, others must be free to work less and earn little ;
as, if boys race, some will come in behind. It may be
that those who get less will be jealous and suspicious of
the success of the others. Instead of trying again and
doing better, they may fall into the ranks of the discon-
tented, like sulky children. This happens in some cases
with men of small natures, however fair, honorable, and
merited the success of the others may be.
The men at the bottom. — It is a wonder that we have
learned to feed and clothe the population of great towns
or of vast armies. But such a task is always attended
with difficulty and the risk of occasional suffering through
mistakes and accidents. Our free system does not work
perfectly, or as well as it ought,
220 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
In a crowded city like London or New York there are
generally more workmen than there is work to be done.
This is partly because new people, frequently foreigners,
are constantly coming into the city. They cannot find
employment as fast as they come. In such cases competi-
tion brings much suffering. Men and women, who must
live, will accept work for a meagre pittance ; then the
wages of others are cut down. This is because men are
free to seek a living where they please. If they were not
free, fewer could be allowed to press into the city. If
men, therefore, choose to be free, they must sometimes
suffer the consequences of their freedom.
It seems very hard that evil' consequences should so
often fall upon the poor and ignorant. This fact is a
constant incentive to better education, since faithful and
skilled men and women more readily find occupation. It
also prevents the more prosperous from selfish content-
ment; for there can be no assured health in the great
body politic while any considerable number of individuals
are allowed to suffer.
Two kinds of competition. — There are two kinds of
competition in vogue. One is like that of brutes who
struggle with each other. It is as if there were a table
with just so much food spread upon it, and men tried to
get as much as they can for themselves, by pushing and
crowding the others. There are thus always some men
in a community who seek to make their living at the
expense, or by the loss, or out of the labor, of others, like
the robber barons who once infested the valley of the
Rhine. Not only the laws now restrain violence, oppres-
sion, and fraud, but public opinion is growing to condemn
men who seek to live by getting away the property of
others. Public opinion is even more effective than laws ;
LABOR AND COMPETITION. 221
for men, like boys, are ashamed to do what their fellows
regard as mean and despicable. So far, however, as public
opinion praises men who manage to snatch more than
their share, and calls them " smart," men, like boys, will
do as their fellows permit.
The competition of men ; emulation. — The competi-
tion of brutes is to get away what the others possess. The
competition of men is to do more and better work ; it is
to economize material and power ; it is to add to the
sum of human wealth and enjoyment. In the competition
of men every one in the end becomes better off ; besides
those who excel, the level of all is raised and the oppor-
tunities of all are enlarged. The object of intelligent
men is not, therefore, to snatch the food from the limited
supply on the table, but to heap the table with larger and
more varied supplies. Thus the world says to each indi-
vidual, " You are free to gather all that you can from the
land, the sea, the mines, and beds of ore. You can use
and enjoy as your own whatever you gather, for we know
that the more each one has and uses and enjoys, the more
all will have."
222 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE GRIEVANCES OF THE POOR.
The two extremes. — The condition of mankind in bar-
barous times was that of constant peril from disease and
famine. Men frequently could not have known where
their bread would come from. Our present civilization
has not yet succeeded in raising all above this chronic
condition of danger in which our forefathers once gener-
ally lived. We have seen that there are many, especially
in the cities, whose meagre wages barely keep them off
the verge of want. They cannot alwa} r s get work. Fre-
quently their wages are cut down, or they are thrown
suddenly out of employment.
There are thus two extremes in society, — one made up
of those who live in luxury, and have even more than they
need or deserve, and the other of those whose toil seems
to be hopeless. Justice and humanity alike raise the ques-
tion, how this very unequal distribution of wealth can be
kept from working cruelty.
The socialists. — In some countries there are many
who are bitterly discontented about these things. They
are sometimes called socialists : some of them are called
communists. They all believe that something must be
wrong in a community which allows some to grow so rich
while many remain in abject want.
There are various divisions among the socialists. A few
who have suffered from bad government, like the Russian
THE GRIEVANCES OF THE POOR. 223
nihilists, favor revolution. Some, the anarchists, do not
believe at all in governments, with armies and police to
enforce laws, but think that men would behave better, if
they were quite free of the control of the state. Some go
to the opposite extreme, and believe that the state should
own all the capital, and furnish every one with work and
supplies. Others think it is a great abuse that individuals
can own the land and make others pay rent for it. They
would have all the land owned by the community, and no
one could have any land which he did not use. Every one
should then pay a fair rent to the government, that is, to
all the people, to be expended in place of the taxes, for
the benefit of all.
Others claim that the government should own the rail-
roads, the telegraph, the gas and water-works, and perhaps
also the mines and factories, and other property, now
worked by great companies. The government could then
furnish employment to laborers with fair wages and shorter
hours of work.
In general, whoever wishes to add to the kinds of wealth
which all the people own together, is so far a socialist. In
a free and civilized country most men are partly socialists,
inasmuch as all favor common schools, parks, public build-
ings, sewage, water-works, and the post-office, and in fact,
a common government.
The men and the system. — It is well, before a man
pulls down or alters his house, to find what part of the
inconvenience from which he suffers is owing to the fault
of the house, and how much comes from his own negli-
gence. It is also necessary to have some clear plan of
what he will build in place of the old building, and how
lie will make the change. It is evident that one cause of
men's poverty and distress lies in the tact that the in-
224 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
dividual men and women who make up society are as yet
very imperfect. The whole body cannot be sound and
well unless the parts are also sound.
The inefficient. — There is everywhere a class of ne'er-
do-well people, feeble in body or mind, lacking in energy
or skill. Their most serious misfortune is not in being
poor, but in their want of life. If there are many of the
inefficient, as there are in certain tribes of savages, the
whole community is poor.
The ignorant. — So, too, if a large proportion of people
are ignorant. For the ignorant not only cannot earn or
produce as much as the intelligent, but they also waste
food, fuel, money, and life itself,- in a thousand ways. If,
then, a people, or a single household, had the best arrange-
ments possible, they could not succeed in acquiring wealth,
as long as they were ignorant.
The idle. — There is a certain proportion of idle or lazy
persons who do not care to study or read, or sometimes
even to play, but prefer to watch others ; least of all, do
they care to work. The more of these there are, the harder
must others work. However excellent our social arrange-
ments were, the idle would tend to keep us poor. If their
own needs no longer urged them to work, it is to be feared
that the arm of the law would be needful to compel them,
as in the army, where uncomfortable discipline has to be
The unfortunate. — There are many who, without being
imbecile or inefficient, are, through sickness, accidents,
losses, and the death of friends, from time to time ren-
dered helpless. Among these are widows and orphans
who are perhaps permanently unable to earn their living.
All these necessarily lower the average of the prosperity
of the community. Others must cheerfully work the
THE GRIEVANCES OF THE POOR. 225
harder in order to make good their misfortunes. But no
mere change in the arrangement of property will remove
The vicious. — Besides the cost of prisons and police,
the labor of the community has to bear the constant burden
of all the vices which waste property, destroy health, and
ruin character. Drunkenness alone is the cause of a large
proportion of the poverty.
On the other hand, vice, and especially drunkenness and
idleness, are apt to prevail whenever many are discon-
tented or suffer injustice or oppression; as boys do not
behave as well unless they believe in the fairness of their
teacher. So it is necessary that men should have confi-
dence that the arrangements of society are on the whole
A problem. — The individuals who make human societ}-
are more or less imperfect, only partly educated, partially
successful or happy. No plan will therefore give us per-
fect results till the individuals are better ; as a crew cannot
row successfully in the best boat unless the rowers are all
strong and skilful. Can we now contrive any new plan
or improvement by which all can have and enjoy more ?
Before we answer this question we need to see the main
objects to be secured by human society.
The objects of society. — One object is material, that
is, an abundant supply of all sorts of products. If, then,
our present arrangement barely gives an average of forty
cents a day to each person, we should still require as large
or larger Bupplies. \\ r e want, therefore, to be quite cer-
tain that men would do as much work under another
system as they do now.
No perfect justice with imperfect men. — Another
object to be secured is justice and the contentment felt
226 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
when every one receives it. We fail of justice as long as
some have more and others less than they deserve. But
we should not secure justice or contentment by sharing
alike, however much or little each did. Neither is any
one nor any number of men wise and good enough to
award perfect justice and remove all discontent.
Freedom and manhood. — The greatest of all objects
to be gained by human society is manhood or character.
We want capable, faithful, patriotic, and disinterested men
and women, since a state made up of such citizens will
be stronger, richer, and happier. We have seen that a
large freedom stimulates character, as fresh air stimulates
physical life. If any new system could even increase our
supplies, it would still need to be shown that it would also
make our people more energetic, capable, generous, and
It is with men as with children. If they abuse or waste
their playthings, or cheat with their marbles, the remedy
is not in taking the playthings away from them, or in
compelling them to change their game for a new one.
What we want is not to prevent them by force from cheat-
ing or abusing their sports, but to train them to play with
skill and fairness.
Faith or trust in men. — Human society is bound to-
gether by justice and confidence. We trust, on the whole,
that our fellow-men will do right ; that if we show them
evident wrongs, they will be fair enough to correct them ;
that if help is needed for the unfortunate, they will cheer-
fully render it. If men cannot be trusted in the long run to
do right of their own will, no laws or rules or systems can be
trusted. For men must make and enforce the rules. But
if men can be trusted voluntarily to do justice, the fewer
rules we make to bind and compel them, the better they
THE GRIEVANCES OF THE POOIt. 227
will behave ; like students trusted by the college, who
respond better to trust than to rules or force.
Our laws, then, are for the exceptional cases of those
who cannot be trusted ; but society, as a whole, ought to
be like the model school, where rules are least needed.
This is the idea of our free society. This could not well
be under any plan which gave to the government the con-
trol of the work and the wealth, as well as the power to
command the idle or unwilling.
Summary. — However much we desire to cure injustice,
or to bring relief to the poor, we must still seek to pre-
serve the greatest possible freedom, since we cannot make
men just by compulsion. We cannot cure one kind of
injustice by doing another kind. If we knew that some
one had more wealth than he deserved, this would not
make it right for his neighbors to appropriate his wealth
by a majority vote.
It is probable that the permanent common wealth will
largely increase, at least in the form of schoolhouses, hos-
pitals, museums, public grounds, and buildings. No one
can foresee sufficiently to be sure that various offices, now
performed by great corporations of individuals, may not
sometime be advantageously performed by the whole body
of the people.
The fact seems to be that, when all are faithful and
honest enough to be trusted to act freely as individuals,
all can then be trusted to act justly together. Neither can
all work together, without doing each other any injustice,
unless the individuals have first learned to be just ; as the
boys of a club cannot play well together till all its members
are willing to do their share of the work.
228 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE ABUSES AND THE DUTIES OF WEALTH.
The significance of property. — Property gives its pos-
sessor a lien on the produce of the world. Besides the
share which his work or skill buys, he is also entitled to
an extra share representing his property. He may even
do nothing, and yet draw from the world an income equal
to the value of the labor of scores or hundreds of men. It
is as if the world carried a mortgage upon its shoulders.
If one thinks of all the products of the world as put into a
vast pile, a certain part of the pile must be given to the
owners of property. On the other hand, the pile is larger
on account of the property which has been used as capital.
The owners of property have furnished necessary tools,
machinery, and materials. The property-owners have often
made the tools by their skill, or invented the machinery,
or gathered the material by their frugality. So far as this
has been the case, no one grudges them their larger share
in the products. Neither is any one poorer because they
The rich. — A few rich men in every community often
possess a disproportionate share of all the property. This
is true on a small scale in a fishing- village or among farm-
ers. It is partly on account of good fortune, by which
one man out of a hundred finds the school of fish or the
nugget of gold. It is partly the result of training and
character, since only the few know how to manage and
THE ABUSES AND THE DUTIES OF WEALTH. 229
keep their property. It is partly also because property,
like a snowball, after it has rolled up to a certain size,
tends to grow very fast.
Besides those who are rich through the ownership of
property, such as houses and lands, there is a considerable
class who are practically rich through the large incomes
which genius, special ability, or skill enables them to draw.
The voice of a great singer, the acumen of a great lawyer,
the insight of a physician, or the rare administrative ability
of a railroad superintendent, naturally brings the same sort
of exceptional income as the possession of visible property,
and raises its possessor into the class of the rich. Rare
skill or genius, in fact, like good fortune, is a natural
inequality, making one man to differ from others.
The rich who have done no service. — The custom of
mankind has not only allowed men themselves to enjoy the
advantage of wealth or exceptional ability, but also to give
property to others, and especially to their children. Many
are therefore rich who have done no more service them-
selves for the enrichment of mankind than if they had not
been born. In some cases the law of inheritance has doubt-
less made children rich by fortunes, like those of pirates
or gamblers, which their fathers had acquired by fraud.
The truth is, that if it is deemed best to permit the good
and deserving to grow rich, and to transmit their wealth
to their children, the dishonest will sometimes do the same.
The different uses of wealth. — There is no danger to
a family, in case one of the children takes better care of
his toys than the others, or is ingenious and makes play-
things for himself, and so possesses more than the rest.
For the whole household has more resources than if he
had less. It would be quite different if the ingenious boy
undertook to getaway the toys and playthings that belonged
230 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
to the others. There are two kinds of uses, likewise, which
may be made of their wealth by the rich.
One use is to make the great pile of the products of the
world larger, in which case every one will be better off.
Thus if a millionnaire were to lay out his income in build-
ing houses, although he might grow still richer by the rent
from the houses, the city would be richer, and every one
might have better and cheaper shelter. So if he built a
mill, gave work to a thousand men, and made flour or
But suppose the rich man used the power of his wealth
to get away what others possessed ; suppose that he bought
up all the houses in order to charge a higher rent ; or sup-
pose he and others with him owned a railroad and refused
to take corn to market unless the farmer paid a ruinous
charge; or suppose that rich men bought all the salt-
springs, so as to tax every one in the country for their
own selfish benefit. This would be to create a monopoly.
Monopolies, good and bad. — It is a monopoly when one
or a few hold and control the use of any valuable thing.
A monopoly is not always bad or unfair. Jenny Lind's
voice was thus a sort of natural monopoly. It gave her
the opportunity to become very rich. The laws also confer
a monopoly upon an inventor or author. No one can use
the invention or publish the book without paying the man
who holds the patent or copyright. The laws even give
the inventor the right to charge more than is fair if he
chooses. There are many monopolies, however, which are
plainly oppressive. If Robinson Crusoe had secured the
only spring of water upon his island, and refused to let
new colonists have water without working for him, this
would be a cruel monopoly. So whenever men buy up
some great article of universal necessity, like rice, coffee,
THE ABUSES AND THE DUTIES OF WEALTH. 231
or quinine, in order to get their own price out of other's
pockets; or, again, when they get laws passed compelling
every one to use the product of their mines or their mills.
The limit of monopolies. — The great moral laws which
govern the world limit monopolies. If the monopoly is
abused, it checks or kills itself. The great singer may ask
too large a price ; the author or the inventor may charge
so much as to stop his sales. The railroad will not make
so much money by high rates as by carrying more goods
at fair rates ; or if its rates are exorbitant, another road
may be built. The salt or the sugar must not cost too
much, or people will send abroad to get their supplies.
This is in case the monopoly is not protected by force or
by law. But if the laws make the monopoly, giving ad-
vantages to one or to the few, or to a class of nobles or
rich men, the only remedy is in making the laws equal
Land monopoly. — It sometimes happens in a city that
one man or a few, owning land needed for building, hold
it so as either to keep it out of the market and arrest the
growth of the city, or else to require unreasonable prices.
This makes a monopoly. The owners may finally lease
their land, so as to draw a large income from the business
of the city.
So when men get control of great tracts of fertile land,
or of timber, or of mines. The time may come when
these men have a monopoly, and can therefore demand
their own price for the land. This price has to come out
of other men's pockets. For the men who hold the land
monopoly do not add to the wealth of the world, or confer
any benefit by holding their property out of the market.
The cure of land monopolies. — The laws may be made
either to encourage monopolists of land or to discourage
232 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
them. It rests largely with the assessors of taxes to see
that the men who hold more land than they really use,
hoping to make money by keeping it, shall pay as much
into the treasury as would be paid if the land were sold to
those who would put buildings upon it or cultivate it.
The rivalry of the rich. — As kings used foolishly to
fight with each other to extend their domain, so the rich
may employ their wealth to ruin each other's property, or
in the hope of winning more at others' loss. Thus for-
tunes sometimes change hands on Wall Street as at a
gambling-table. Or men contrive to injure the trade or
the business of their rivals, and even to drive them into
bankruptcy, or to make it unprofitable for them to run
their mills. This sort of struggle plainly does not make
the pile of the product of the world larger, but lessens the
general wealth and often produces great hardship, as in
any kind of war.
Waste by the rich. — A great fortune may be like a
great reservoir in which the water is stored for further use
to irrigate the fields. But suppose the man uses his great
income for his own indulgence, for his whims and fancies,
like the famous mad king of Bavaria. Suppose he spends
it in costly banquets, or locks it up in private pleasure-
grounds. Even so he cannot spend without giving his
money back, through the goods he pays for and the men
whom he hires. Nevertheless, his waste and extravagance
become a public loss. For while the investments of his
income in new buildings or railroads cheapen prices and
rents, his expense for extra service and luxuries makes
prices dearer for others.
We can imagine the evils of gigantic wealth to be such
that the community would be forced to erect some limit
or safeguard against the abuse of money — as we do in the
THE ABUSES AND THE DITTIES OF WEALTH. 233
case of the insane, or to guard against a public enemy;
nevertheless, the peculiar evils of riches in the hands of a
few depend mainly upon the character of the rich men,
and disappear when they are wise, just, and public spirited ;
as power in the mayor or president is only dangerous in
case of his incapacity or injustice.
Capitalists. — The poor man begins to be rich as soon
as he has acquired any kind of property, as tools, or land,
or a house. He then becomes a capitalist. He may be
an owner of shares in the great railroad for which he
works. The bank or railroad company in which he is an
owner may possess more property than any man in the
state. Like the rich man's fortune, so the company com-
posed of many little capitalists is a reservoir for accumulat-
ing and using money. It has also some of the same dangers
of wasting its resources, or of using its power to fight with
others, or of making monopolies, or even controlling legis-
lation. It is not, therefore, the rich who are to be feared so
much as wasteful, reckless, or unscrupulous men, whether
they have much or little.
The duties of wealth. — The possession of wealth is
not merely a right which certain ones enjoy, or a luxury of
which a few accidentally may have more than their share.
Wealth imposes certain obvious duties upon its possessor.
Trusteeship. — There are in the United States hundreds
of millionnaires, holding the title to a large proportion of
the land, banks, railroads, mines, and factories. Their
actual or personal services to the community cannot gen-
erally have been worth as much money as they possess.
They may, therefore, justly be considered as so many trus-
tees, having for the time the care and management of the
accumulation of the wealth of the whole community.
This great fund, as we have seen, is partly the product of
234 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
human labor and thought, and partly the bounty of nature.
It is morally sacred for purposes of good. The fact that
this obligation is not legal, but moral, makes it more hon-
orable. The idea of trusteeship does not apply merely to
millionnaires. Every person is responsible for all that he
uses or spends.
So far as rich men acknowledge and act under this obli-
gation of trusteeship, there is no hardship in their acquir-
ing and holding as much wealth as they please. Moreover,
if any one is a foolish or incapable trustee, the general rule
is that his wealth goes out of his hands, as power disappears
from one who does not know how to use it.
Service. — We have seen that- the possession of property
gives no one a right to lead a useless or idle life. On the
contrary, however much one inherits or accumulates, one
is bound to the universal duty of some kind of service in
making the world better, richer, or happier. The more
wealth one possesses, the meaner he therefore is, like the
stronger or older brother in the household, if he does no
good with his money, or if he makes of himself only a
bigger drone in the hive.
Sharing. — The trusteeship of property makes it shame-
ful for any intelligent person to lavish expense upon him-
self. So with unnecessary exclusiveness, especially with
regard to grounds, paintings, and works of art. That a man
should attempt by his wealth to fence out the public from
a great forest, or appropriate for himself alone a tract of
seashore, betrays the selfishness of a small mind. The
rarer products of wealth ought to be held with a generous
consideration towards the community upon whose labor
wealth is based. We appeal here to the same principles
of honor and kindliness which hold in every home and
schoolroom. If it is better to let the child own his knife
THE ABUSES AND THE DUTIES OF WEALTH. 235
or ball for which he is responsible, it is still his duty to
share its use with the others, as it is wrong to lock it up
for his own pleasure.
Public munificence. — It was the custom of the Athe-
nians to expect of their richer men to undertake certain
special kinds of public expense, as the fitting out of a
trireme, or the cost of a festival. So in our times there
is a just expectation that no rich man will live and die
without some worthy public benefactions. A generous pub-
lic spirit should spare the rich the envy of their poorer
It is not merely generosity to give ; it is the return of
an obligation, or the discharge of a trust. For much of the
accumulated wealth of the world has arisen from the toil
and effort of the men of the past, from whom we all
inherit. A portion is always due, therefore, not only for
present needs, but also to keep good what we have in-
herited, in special provision for the future, — for public
works and buildings ; for schools and colleges ; for works
of philanthropy or religion. The more property one has,
the larger his honorable responsibility for these purposes.
How property ought to be distributed. — That com-
munity would not be most prosperous and happy in which
all had precisely the same income, for this is not just ;
nor where the state held everything, and the individual's
freedom to follow his natural bent was taken away. But
the truest prosperity would come about, where the laws
gave free scope to the skill and energy of the people in
caining wealth; where, among rich and poor alike, least
money was wasted and squandered ; and where the accu-
mulated wealth came to be distributed, according to each
man's wisdom, integrity, and capacity for using it well.
In such conditions, if the wiser and more able were also
236 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
friendly and considerate, no one could fall into grievous
poverty, and no rich man who held himself as a trustee of
his wealth could use it for oppression. Thus the free
system of acquiring and holding wealth promises to work
out justice and happiness, as fast as individuals learn to
be fair, and to do by others as they wish others to do by
them. Whereas, unless there are plenty of such fair-
minded individuals, there can be no happiness or prosperity
enforced by rules, whether made by a sovereign like the
Emperor of Germany, or by the majority of a republic.
BUYERS AND SELLERS. 237
BUYERS AND SELLERS; OR, THE MUTUAL BENEFIT.
There are two theories of the conduct of business. One
theory is, that each party in trade aims to get an advantage
over his neighbor: one should try to get as much and
give as little as possible. If goods are defective, the seller
should conceal the fact. The only rights which this the-
ory of business recognizes are legal rights. One must not
overreach far enough to come within the penalties of the
law. Otherwise, so far as the law does not prescribe, the
other party to a bargain must look out for himself.
The notion underlying this theory of business is that
whatever one makes, the other loses. As in gambling it
is thought to be for the interest of the winner that all the
others should lose, so in business it is sometimes supposed
that the successful merchant grows rich at the expense of
his neighbors. Business is thus a game in which every
one is trying to win. The laws are merely the rules of
The idea of business. — The fact is, that buyers and
sellers perforin mutual services to each other. Mercantile
business is not a game, but an industry, like farming or
manufacturing. The merchant increases the value of goods
by bringing them to market. He therefore deserves wages
or salary for the services which he renders in collecting
and distributing his goods. He receives his wages in the
form of the surplus of his sales over their cost. The larger
238 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
his sales and the greater his skill, — that is, the more valu-
able his services, — the greater his income deserves to be.
The law of supply and demand regulates this. The income
of merchants is not, however, uniform. Sometimes it is
less than the equivalent of the work and cost which they
have spent, and sometimes much more. In the long run,
it is nearly the same as equal labor, skill, and experience
would produce in any other industry.
It follows that what the merchant honestly makes is not
at any one's expense or loss. The wheat gathered in the
warehouses is actually worth more than in the farmers'
granaries. Neither the farmer, therefore, nor any one else
has lost by the merchant's profit in the purchase and sale
of the wheat. So with all other products.
The rights of buyers and sellers. — The earliest kind
of trade was barter. In barter each party was both buyer
and seller. In fair barter each shared the mutual advan-
tage of the exchange ; as, for example, a pack of skins for
a sack of wheat. So in modern trade, which is only a
more complicated kind of barter. In a fair sale the buyer
and seller divide the value of a mutual advantage between
them : each, therefore, ought to be better off than before.
If any dealer, as a rule, got for himself the whole advan-
tage of his bargains, it would be the same as getting what
did not belong to him.
It follows that all overreaching, even though the laws
do not specify it, is an attempt to get what belongs to
another. The sale of goods which are defective or below
the standard — the adulteration of food or the watering
of milk — is not trade, but an attempt to get what be-
longs to others. So, too, of purchasers who seek to beat
prices down to less than the cost of goods : they not only
try to get what belongs to others, but they tempt men to
BUYE1IS AND SELLERS. 239
The interests of buyers and sellers. — It is not only
just that buyers and sellers should share in the mutual
advantage of their bargains, it is also for their interest.
This is the meaning of the proverb, that honesty is the
best policy. Thus business is best when every class gets
fair pay for its services. If the farmers do not get their
share of the proceeds of their labor, the merchants will
feel the loss in the end in the diminution of business.
This is also true in individual cases, because, as a rule,
men appreciate just treatment, and tend to do as they are
done by. In a community where men aim to share equita-
bly, there is a general increase of values, and there is,
therefore, more wealth to share.
Legitimate and illegitimate business. — It follows
that only those kinds of business are righteous which
result in benefit to the public. A business which does no
good on the whole, or which even results in harm or loss
to the community, no just man ought to engage in. It
makes no difference with this principle, that custom and
the laws sometimes allow harmful business. Thus when
no laws forbade the sale of powder, firearms, and liquor
to savages, the business was no less bad in its effects. So
if the owner of a building rents it for an injurious purpose,
as, for example, a low drinking-saloon.
The law of supply and demand, or competition in
buying and selling. — One can imagine all the cattle of
the country to be in the hands of a few families, who have
cattle and nothing else. They must therefore have wheat
and other supplies from the farmers. They begin by
exchanging with the nearest farmer at his own price,
which happens to give him a large profit. A second
fanner presently appears and offers his wheat for less ; and
the first farmer, rather than not sell, reduces his price.
240 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Thus, after a time, by competition, the farmers fix a price
as low as they can afford. Henceforward the exchange of
cattle and wheat regulates itself according to the plenty
or scarcity of the one product and the other. If the cattle
men have a good year, they can afford to furnish cattle at
a lower price ; if wheat is scarce, it must be dearer.
It is in some such way as this that the prices of all sorts
of things are fixed. The more valuable or the rarer a
thing is, — in other words, the more work it costs to obtain
it, — the higher the price which is fixed upon it. If the
demand is so great that many set to work to supply it, and
it presently becomes plentiful, or if the demand falls, the
price is lowered accordingly. Thus, once iron was scarce
and costly, till men learned to produce it on a great scale ;
the more iron mines were worked, the cheaper became all
sorts of iron ware. So there was once great profit in trad-
ing on foreign shores, as in China ; but as more ships were
built and plenty of tea was brought home, the profits
finally fell so that it scarcely paid better to build ships
than to build houses.
Selling in the dearest market. — We may suppose that
a farmer raises fruit and vegetables, which few of his
neighbors in the country care to buy. But a few miles
away, in the town, there are many people who need his
products. Their demand, being active, will allow the
farmer a good price. This is because he brings his fruits
where they are most wanted. If now he can send to the
great city, and if he can furnish fruit of superior quality
for persons who demand the best articles, he will reap still
better prices. The "dearest market," then, is wherever
the demand or need is greatest. Whoever will take the
pains to meet such a demand will be well paid. The dear-
est market, also, is usually, though not always, where
BUYERS AND SELLERS. 241
people can best afford to pay a higher price. Thus the
dearest market for the farmer and fisherman is in the city,
where most money is. It is therefore an advantage to
both buyer and seller for goods to be brought to the
Buying in the cheapest market. — The cheapest market
is where there is a most plentiful supply. The cheapest
market for the fish is on the shore when the fishing-boats
come in. Here, then, is the place to buy to best advantage.
The best place, likewise, to buy clothing is in the great
shop where clothing is piled on the shelves. Whoever
will buy where goods are plentiful, that is, cheapest, accom-
modates the seller also, who wants money instead of his
goods. Thus it is to the advantage of every one when
purchasers buy in the cheapest market. If, however, many
purchasers crowd into the cheap market so that the goods
become scarce, it is fair to all to raise the prices. In this
case those buy the goods who need them or care most for
them ; but those who can get along without them do not
buy, or purchase something else, or they seek a cheaper,
that is, more plentiful, market. Meanwhile, as soon as
prices rise, men set to work to provide a cheaper market
again ; in other words, to furnish a fresh and larger supply.
The attempt of men to sell in the dearest market and to
buy in the cheapest, constantly works to bring goods of all
kinds precisely where they are most wanted, and also
to distribute money where it is needed. It is a part of
the great natural process through which the result of the
work of the world is divided. 1 It is like the circulation of
the blood in the body, which is always seeking to flow
where there is a hunger for it or a loss to be replaced.
1 See Chapter XWIII.. pages 188 and L89.
242 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Freedom in trade. — In barbarous- times it was so peril-
ous and costly to travel, and transportation of goods in-
volved such risks, that men might perish within a few
miles of a cheap market. For many centuries, also, there
were so many tolls collected of merchants and so many
custom-houses on the border of every little state, that men
could not afford to bring their supplies, where they were
wanted, to the dearest market. There was, therefore, great
poverty and suffering, as when tight cords restrict the flow
of the blood to the limbs.
Civilization cuts the cord and gives the body freedom
to act. It makes the turnpikes and bridges free for all ; it
unites the little states into great nations ; it builds great
lines of railway. In the United States there is perfect
freedom of trade among all the States and Territories.
When, therefore, the crops fail in one section, supplies
flow freely in from other quarters to meet the demand.
Famine, the scourge of ancient times, is rendered almost
impossible. The farmer in Dakota, with his great wheat-
fields, is brought close to the hungering markets of New
England. This is because every one in the nation is free
to buy in the cheapest market and to sell in the dearest.
International freedom of trade. — The world is not yet
so civilized that every one is free to seek the cheapest
market abroad as well as at home. The German is still
forbidden by his government to enjoy the cheaper Ameri-
can markets in buying his meat. The American does not
yet see his advantage in giving himself freedom to buy
goods wherever he can find cheaper markets in England,
France, or Cuba. Meanwhile as long as we refuse to per-
mit our neighbors in other countries freedom to use our
markets, we must expect to be denied the freedom to sell
our goods to them. Thus if we lay a duty or tax to
BUYERS AND SELLERS. 243
restrict merchants from buying wool in South America,
we shall naturally suffer retaliation from the South Amer-
ican Republics, who will levy taxes on the products which
we send to them. Full civilization, on the contrary, makes
no restrictions on freedom of trade, and inflicts no retali-
On the other hand, those who believe in restrictive
duties maintain, that as long as the world is not yet civil-
ized, our nation cannot afford quite freely to carry on in-
tercourse with foreign peoples, who have different laws,
customs, and rates of wages, and often lower standards of
Freedom in trade; what harm it may do. — While
freedom in trade works out good on the whole, it some-
times does harm ; as the laws which work well for the
many, may do injustice to individuals. Thus it is good
for the nation that we can buy corn in the cheapest mar-
ket, which is in the West ; but this is hard for the farmer
in Vermont, who cannot raise corn so cheaply. It is good,
on the whole, that the Vermont farmer can sell his eggs
and chickens in the dearest market, which is Boston or
New York, but this makes eggs and chickens dearer for
the people in Vermont ; as when there is demand in the
brain for nourishing blood, which is drawn away for the
time from the extremities.
The two sides. — Competition in trade may be very sel-
fish and cruel, as when one neighbor outbids another or
undersells him, on purpose to get rid of him and to con-
trol the whole business ; or when a great firm seeks to
crush its lesser rivals. So in case of a great snow-block-
ade, cutting off a city from its supplies, if the milkmen
wring extortionate prices from the needs of suffering chil-
244 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
But competition or freedom of trade need not be selfish.
As a class of boys may aim each to get the most perfect
mark of excellence ; so every man who sells, if he be hon-
orable and high-minded, may aim at furnishing the best
quality of articles on the most favorable terms which he
can afford ; so purchasers may, and often do, scorn to exact
unreasonable advantage from the necessities of the seller.
In short, there is no need, because one carries on business,
to forget that one deals with men like oneself. If the
laws, then, allow meanness and extortion, enlightened
public opinion, not to speak of religion, calls for humanity
and friendliness, and brands with shame any species of
competition which forgets the man in the bargain.
Paying one's debts. — Men are debtors and creditors
in turn, according as they owe money to others or others
owe them. If, now, a man's debtors put off payment or do
not pay at all, there will be difficulty in his paying his
creditors as he has promised, and again in their paying to
others. As the failure of any link in the chain weakens
the whole, so wherever a promise is broken thgre will be
suffering and loss. If many do not pay, money will be hard
to obtain, and business in general will suffer; whereas
prompt payment by one gives the means of payment along
a whole line of men. The money which before failed to
circulate, moves on freely and makes more business, as
well as the means of happiness, every time it is promptly
Bankruptcy. — It often happens that merchants and
others fail to pay their obligations. No one then will trust
them longer, and they have to stop their business. This
is not a hardship to them merely, but to many others who
depend upon them, as clerks and employees, as well as
those who have lost by giving them credit. Often the
BUYEIIS AND BELLBB8. 24.">
greatest suffering falls on those who are thus turned out
Bankruptcy sometimes happens through the failure of
others ; but it occurs often by the extravagance, the folly,
the unskilfulness, and even the fraud of those who fail in
Bankruptcy laws. — When men fail to pay their debts,
there are often many creditors, all of whom ought fairly
to share in the assets or property of the debtor. It may
be that the debtor also, if the creditors will agree to give
him time to settle his affairs, will contrive to pay them
more than if they seized and divided his property at once.
It may be fair, too, if the debtor honestly gives up all that
he has, for his creditors to release him from further pay-
ment and leave him free to go on in business. Bank-
ruptcy laws, therefore, provide through the proper courts
for the protection of the interests of both debtors and
creditors. Whereas once a debtor could be cruelly im-
prisoned by a hard-hearted creditor, the debtor is now
given a fair opportunity to retrieve his fortune.
Sometimes creditors live in different States. A national
bankruptcy law is therefore needed, in order that the
creditors who live in the State where the failure took place
may not have unjust advantage over the others.
As with other laws, dishonorable merchants may some-
times use the bankruptcy laws to wrong their creditors
and to secure a release for themselves without giving up
their property. On the other hand, men of honor can and
sometimes do more than the law requires, and after being
released from their creditors, insist, as soon as they arc
able, upon paying the full amount of their debts.
246 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
EMPLOYERS AND THE EMPLOYED: THEIR INTERESTS IN
All men are either employers of labor or employees.
Most men are at the same time both employers and
The rights of employers; fidelity. — The meaning
of fidelity is to do another's work as well as possible, or as
well as if it were one's own. The truth is, that the work-
man sells something — namely, his work, whether of his
hands or his brain ; and, like everything else sold, it ought
to be of standard quality. The right to faithful service
is not lessened if the employer pays insufficient wages or
salary, neither is the service merely for the employer : it
is for the whole community, which is poorer for every
wasted hour or blundering piece of work. The man,
also, who performs unfaithful service becomes degraded
and demoralized. Fidelity includes honesty, sobriety, and
punctuality. Courtesy is also due to the employer, and
tends to make permanent and friendly relations with
The rights of employees ; wages or salary. — Who-
ever sells his work or skill, is entitled to its fair price
as truly as if it were corn or cloth. Fair pay is not
only a righteous amount, but also punctuality in payment.
Fair pay has reference to the hours of work and to the
amount of vacation or holiday time given.
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYED. 247
Respect. — The employer has not discharged his duty
in paying a laborer; he owes him also courtesy and friendly
respect as a man.
Honest management. — The employee is not only en-
titled to fair wages, but a wrong is done him by dishonest
and speculative management of business, which results in
failure and bankruptcy. He is in a certain sense a partner
with his employer, and his interests ought not to be risked.
The labor market. — In one view, labor, like every-
thing valuable, is subject to the law of supply and demand.
The men who have their labor to sell will bring it to the
dearest market; that is, wherever labor is most needed.
It will there get the best pay. On the other hand, those
who wish to hire labor will go to the cheapest market;
that is, wherever labor is plentiful. Thus if a company
wish to build a factory, they will consider where they can
get workmen to the best advantage. They could not build
their factory in Oregon so well as in Massachusetts, because
the latter State is a more abundant market for labor. Mean-
while, wherever they build their factory, workmen will
flock there. It is thus of advantage to both employers and
the employed to buy labor in the cheapest market and to
sell it in the dearest. On the whole, work is thus distrib-
uted where it is most needed and where the best pay can
be given it. If any considerable number of workmen are
getting small wages, a free opportunity is afforded to get
better wages wherever a larger demand is made for their
A difficulty ; the human element. — Labor is not
simply valuable as a commodity. It is human also. When
corn is plenty, or inferior in quality, it is no great hard-
ship if it brings a low price, or does not sell at all. But
the workman must live ; he may have a family dependent
248 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
upon him ; even if he is an inferior workman, he must still
be housed and fed as a man. Neither can the laborer be
easily transported, like corn or commodities, wherever the
demand and the pay are greater. Many circumstances
may render it costly or even impossible for him to move
to a place where his labor will be in .more demand.
Low wages ; the limit of decency. — While at times
the number of workmen may be far greater than the
demand, there is a limit below which it is not the custom
to let wages fall. This limit is fixed by men's considera-
tions of humanity. The more high-minded employers are,
and the stronger is public opinion, the higher is this limit
of wages to which a man's work is entitled, on the ground
that he is a man.
Employees who cannot help themselves. — In years
of good harvests and prosperity there is more money to
spend, and there will be employment in all industries for
men able and willing to work. But bad years also come
when there is less to divide and to spend, and therefore
less work is called for. The inferior or unskilled work-
men are the first to suffer for want of employment. More-
over, the conditions of civilized life require costly tools
and machinery: no man can easily work alone, as the
savage can, but the civilized man needs the co-operation
of others. One cannot even till the soil without assist-
ance or capital. Although the law of supply and demand
works after a while to correct disorders of industry, and
to set men again to work where they will be needed, this
law has often to be supplemented by sympathy and human-
ity to prevent the innocent from suffering. For the whole
body of the community is bound up with the welfare and
prosperity, or the loss and misery of any portion. If indi-
viduals, then, cannot provide employment for their neigh-
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYED. 249
bors who wish to find work, it may sometimes be the duty
of the state or the city to provide public works, such as
the building of streets and other improvements. Better
education will also train a larger proportion of the chil-
dren to such skill and faithfulness as may find permanent
Employers who cannot help themselves. — We have
seen that the number of workmen may sometimes be
greater than can be employed at all ; or business may be dull
and unremunerative ; or certain factories may have greater
expenses in rent and interest than others, and so cannot
afford to pay sufficient wages to go on making their goods.
In general, unless the employers are successful and can
accumulate capital, they cannot weather the storms which
will sometimes occur in»the financial and industrial world.
The poorly managed shops and factories are often, there-
fore, obliged to stop altogether. This is not because the
employers are unwilling to help their workmen, but because
they are themselves unfortunate.
Industrial warfare; strikes and lockouts. — It will
happen sometimes that employers and employees disagree
and quarrel. It may be by reason of misunderstanding, or
for actual fault on one side or the other. In some cases the
men agree to quit work until their demands are granted.
This is ^called a strike. Like war, it means loss of time
and money on both sides, and often great suffering to the
workmen's families. Like war, it ought to be justified, if
at all, only by urgent necessity. It might also, like war,
almost always be prevented.
The employers may make war upon their workmen by
shutting down their works and stopping wages till the men
accede to their wishes. This is called a h><-h-<nit. As in
war, the evil is not merely at the time, but in the loss of
good feeling afterwards.
250 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Trades-unions. — The printers or the telegraph opera-
tors, by union among themselves, may make a monopoly
of their skill, and for the time set their own terms for
their labor; exactly as rich men who own a railroad, or
who buy up cotton or wheat, make a monopoly. The
union may also attempt to limit the number of workmen,
to forbid the employment of non-union men, or to demand
the same pay for unskilled as for skilled workmen ; as the
monopolists of coffee or salt try to interfere with the law
of supply and demand.
The good of Trades-unions. — On the other hand, the
trades-unions are often friendly and benefit societies, and
may use their influence to raise- the standard of skill and
intelligence among their men. As with all societies, the
membership is of a higher character when members are free
to join it or to stay outside, than when they are brought
in by any kind of compulsion ; as an army composed of
volunteers is more efficient than an army raised by con-
Arbitration. — It is impossible for individuals or major-
ities, whether in a trade or in the state, permanently to fix
prices or wages. As a rule, it is unwise, as well as unjust,
to try to prevent the free and natural relations of em-
ployers and employees. For the industrial machinery of
the world is very complicated and delicate, so that med-
dling with it at one point may disarrange it somewhere
else. It sometimes happens, however, that difficulties and
questions arise between employers and their men, in which
impartial advice may remedy misunderstanding or injustice
on one side or the other. This is called arbitration. So
far as employers are fair, and their employees are intelli-
gent, arbitration may be expected to save the waste and
ill-feeling of the more barbarous and violent methods of
KMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYED. 251
strikes and lockouts. For the quarrels of men, like the
quarrels of boys in their games, would mostly be averted
by yielding to the decision of a wise and friendly umpire.
The interests of employers and the employed together.
— It is obvious that the interest of the employer is in the
most faithful, intelligent, and willing workmanship. The
best workmen, even when they must be paid high wages,
are the most economical, as goods of standard quality are
cheaper in the end than inferior goods. The employer,
therefore, with skilled and willing men, may easily afford
to pay the best wages and yet produce goods which will
sell at a profit.
The success of the employer is equally for the interest
of the workmen. His success means permanence in work,
whereas the less successful shop will often have to be
closed. His success means also the ability to pay better
wages, and to continue to pay them through dull seasons.
For the successful employer will have a large capital and
credit, and will be able to keep his men employed even at
times when he makes no profits himself.
Co-operation and profit-sharing. — Enterprises have
often been undertaken in which all who have part in the
work share in the profits ; as, for instance, in the fisheries
and in certain factories, — notably in the case of the Mai*>>n
Leclaire in Paris. It is found that men, if made partners
in a business, take a personal interest in it, work better,
and accomplish more. This is especially the case in work
requiring skill. The advantage is not merely in the fact
that the workmen hope to receive better pay, but that by
this method employers signify that they mean to deal fairly
with their workmen.
All kinds of business, however, are really co-operative,
whether called so or not. For the payment of regular
252 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
salaries and wages (which are apt to rise in good times,
and fall in poor times) is simply a method of sharing the
profits of business with all those who are concerned in
carrying it on. On the whole, a man's share depends upon
how useful or necessary he is. Moreover, many great cor-
porations, like the Pennsylvania Railroad, advance their
wages according to the length of faithful service, or give
pensions to aged workmen. It is also possible for em-
ployees to invest their savings in the shares of the com-
pany for which they work, unless they can do better by
some other form of investment. On the other hand, it is
fair for those who expect to share the profits of their work,
to be willing also to meet the chances of loss.
Men who have been the employees of others, like the
coopers of Minneapolis, sometimes combine, and establish
a business or an industry of their own. The new enter-
prise, like any other corporation, is then subject to the
usual conditions of success ; namely, the energy, prudence,
and honesty of its managers.
Women's work and wages. — We have seen that wages
follow the law of supply and demand; although, when
they become very low, humanity interposes, and forbids
paying less. As a rule, this limit to which wages fall is
lower for women than for men. This is partly because of
the survival of barbarous ideas as to the worth of women.
It is partly because there are fewer employments open to
women's strength, while the number of women seeking
work constantly increases. Many women who live at
home are glad to earn a little money at very low wages,
lower often than they could afford if they had to support
themselves wholly. But the employers who can find will-
ing hands at fifty cents a day cannot easily afford to pay
more to other women, no more skilful, who need a dollar
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYED. 253
Moreover, the wages of women are allowed by common
custom to be lower than in the case of men, even for the
same work, because it is considered that a man must have
enough to support a family, while a woman more often
has only herself to support. This custom frequently works
great hardship, but it holds largely for the sake of the wives
and mothers whom the men ought to support. Men's work,
as a rule, is also for life ; whereas working women are apt
to marry, in which case their work changes to meet the
calls of domestic life.
The commonwealth of labor. — The best commonwealth
which we can think of would be where every one started
with a suitable education and a fair chance to rise to the
place for which he was fitted, — where all had an opportu-
nity to work according to the strength and skill of each ;
where every one had a living according to the worth of his
services ; and where no one could squander the fruits of
other men's labors. It would be a commonwealth where
men saw the interests of each in the interest of all ; where
all men worked side by side as joint partners ; where each
endeavored to add as much as possible to the sum of human
advantage ; and where friendliness as of men, not the sus-
picion or jealousy of brutes, was the prevailing spirit of
their work. So far as individuals carry on work, as they
would wish every one else to do, they help to bring about
SOCIAL EIGHTS AND DUTIES; OR, THE DUTIES
OF MEN AS THEY LIVE TOGETHER
SOCIAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES; OR, THE DUTIES
OF MEN AS THEY LIVE TOGETHER
THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF NEIGHBORS.
We have already seen that even in making money and
bargains it does not work to treat men as machines or as
rivals ; but as the famous Roman emperor said, " We
are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eye-
lids." We have also seen with what good temper we
must work together as fellow-citizens in order to secure
an orderly and prosperous state. On many sides of our
lives we meet men in society simply as neighbors.
The growth of the neighborly feeling. — The old idea
used to be that members of the same tribe, caste, or class
were bound to help each other. Thus Romans should
help Romans, and Brahmins should help the poorer Brah-
mins, and noblemen should stand by each other; but
Romans need not help Greeks, nor nobles spend their
money in aiding peasants. Jesus taught that every one is
our neighbor; but this teaching has never been very much
believed till lately. It is now coming to be the creed of
258 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
the world that we ought to treat all men, of every race
and condition, as neighbors.
The neighborly feeling has its rise in the family. We
easily know how we ought to treat our elders, our guests,
our brothers and sisters. We learn what our duties are
towards the younger members of the family, towards the
feeble, the sick, or the dependent. The village is a greater
family ; so is the state. In a large way all mankind make
a family together. The same rules and the good temper
that show us what to do in the home show us also how to
live together whenever we meet men.
Our rights. — We have a right to respect and courtesy
from others as befits men. We have a right to be con-
sidered for what we are really worth. This right holds
good whatever dress we wear, or however humble a station
we occupy. As the poet Burns says, "A man is a man
for a' that."
We have a right, unless we have thrown it away by mis-
conduct, to be treated as honest, to be trusted and not
Privacy. — We have a right to our privacy. There are
many personal matters which only concern ourselves or
our most intimate friends. It is not well for us, neither
is it desirable for others, that our private affairs should be
made the subject of gossip or published in the newspapers.
We have a right, therefore, to keep these things to our-
selves, and not to be intruded upon by idle curiosity. As
" every man's house is his castle," so every man's private
life, his plans, thoughts, and feelings, his personal corre-
spondence, and his conversation with his friends, ought to
be sacred from publicity.
With most of these humane rights, however, we have
no power to compel or enforce them, unless they are freely
THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF NEIGHBORS. 259
given to us. They are not like legal rights, such as the
right to our liberty or to our property, for maintaining
which we may need to ask the assistance of the govern-
ment. Neither would they be of any use to us if we had
to quarrel or go to law to obtain them ; for respect unwil-
lingly shown would not be sincere, and our private affairs
would become public as soon as we carried them into court.
We have no right, on account of pride of family or of
education, to claim peculiar respect, as though we were of
finer clay than other men. We must expect others to take
us, not at our own value, but at their estimate of us.
We have no right to any one's intimacy or to be taken
into another's confidence, or to be asked to visit him. We
have no right to insist upon being taken into the employ
We have no right to demand assistance from our neigh-
bors. If we have a right to live, we have no right to force
others to help us to live.
Our neighborly rights are only such as others will freely
allow us. For it destroys neighborly feeling to insist upon
Neighborly duties. — We have, in most respects, to
trust others to give us our rights. Our main business is
with our duties.
The duty of just judgment. — As we meet in business,
elect men to office, or choose our friends, we have con-
stantly to pass judgment for or against each other. The
risk is that we shall judge carelessly, that we shall make
up our minds hastily or on worthless evidence, and shall
therefore do our neighbors injustice. We owe it, there-
fore, to every man, as we would wisli to be treated our-
selves, to take care to value him for what he is really
worth. We ought to err on the side of overvaluing rather
than undervaluing others.
260 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Especially when we publish our judgments and opinions
or tell them to others. We owe it to men not to report mere
suspicions to injure their reputation or credit. If we must
ever speak evil, we must know and not guess.
Respect as a humane duty. — We are bound as neigh-
bors to give each other respect ; by which we mean not
only courteous behavior, but respectful feeling. This
respect is based on the fact that every man has the same
human qualities which we have. If, then, we slight or
despise the common human nature, we both hurt others
and cheapen ourselves. Moreover, men show their noble
qualities — courage, fairness, generosity — to those who
treat them well and expect their best. This is true of the
horses and cattle, which do their best for the masters who
treat them most kindly.
Sympathy. — Sympathy means that we are glad to see
others happy, and sorry to see them in pain ; that we are
glad to hear good of them, and sorry to hear evil. Sym-
pathy is easy inside our own family or our set of friends.
The good of one is evidently the good of all ; the hurt of
one hurts all. This is true, although it is not so evident,
outside our own set or family. The good of every Ameri-
can is the good of all ; the loss or hurt of one is the loss
or hurt of the whole people. As when any little wheel of
the machinery of a great mill is injured, the mill cannot
turn out so much work.
Forbearance. — Forbearance means that we do not
condemn our neighbor till we know the circumstances
against which he has to struggle. He may be ill, he may
be misinformed, for no fault of his own he may be
incapable. We are bound, therefore, to be patient with
him, as we wish others at times to be patient with us.
Even when another does us injury, we have no right, like
THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF NEIGHBORS. 261
an ignorant savage, to wish him evil. For that would be
to wish evil to the whole family, or to the community.
Assistance. — If our neighbor's wagon has broken
clown, if his boat has capsized, if his house is on fire, we
owe him the same help which we should need if we were
in his place. If one whom we have never seen needs help,
we owe the same common humanity. Even a dog has
been known to jump into the water or plunge through
snowdrifts to save a stranger.
Different grades of neighborly duty. — Our neigh-
borly duties are of different grades of importance. Thus
we are naturally responsible for the care of our own family
and relatives. We owe more to our friends than to stran-
gers, to those who are near than to the distant, to our
workmen or employers than to others, to our townspeople
than to another town, to our countrymen than to for-
eigners. The closer bonds make greater obligations. We
also know better those who are near us, and can treat
them more intelligently. Thus if a brother or a towns-
man was in trouble, we should choose to have the first
chance to assist him. So when the great flood destroyed
Johnstown, every one was glad to help, but the first duty
was upon the people of Pennsylvania.
This rule, however, has its exceptions. A guest or a
stranger or a foreigner might for a little while need more
attention or help than a friend or relative. He might also
happen to deserve more on account of his character or
services, as when a distinguished man visits this country
What we do not owe to neighbors. — We owe kindly
feeling to every one, but we do not owe every one a place
among our intimate friends. For no one can have many
262 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Neither do we owe help which would have to be given
at the expense of another. Thus it would be robbery to
give an employer's money to relieve distress, as truly as
to use the money for our own pleasure.
The difficulty in treating men as neighbors. — If all
men were equal in intelligence, power, and goodness, there
would be no special difficulty in treating them as our
neighbors. We have seen, however, that there are all
sorts of inequalities. The actual difference between a
savage and a great statesman, poet, or philosopher, is as
great as used to be thought to exist between a slave and
an emperor. The difference between men in moral char-
acter is equally great. We cannot, therefore, truthfully
treat all men in exactly the same way, or give all equal
respect or sympathy, since there is much more to love and
honor in some men than in others. Indeed, it would be
very unfair if we treated idle, ignorant, or vicious people
with the same respect which we show to the industrious,
intelligent, and virtuous.
The social aim. — We found that, so far as the duties
of wealth are concerned, the aim of men was to produce
more wealth, and that the great law which guided them
was justice. The aim of men, as they live in society, is
happiness, and the great rule is benevolence.
THE TREATMENT OF CRIME. 263
THE TREATMENT OF CRIME.
The dangerous class. — There are thousands of people
in our country who are confined in jails and prisons on ac-
count of their crimes. There are many more at large who
are regarded with suspicion as dangerous. Many children,
also, either by inheritance or unfortunate circumstances,
belong to this class. It is sometimes called the dangerous
class. We learned in our study of the duties of citizen-
ship that the government was bound to protect its citizens
from this class.
Who are criminals. — Whoever is willing to injure his
neighbors or the welfare of society is so far a criminal.
There are many ways of injuring others. Besides those
who rob and do violence, those may also as seriously injure
society who get money by fraud, or by bad kinds of busi-
ness, or who pursue a vicious or idle course ; as the body
is not only hurt by cruel blows, but sometimes even more
by wasting and insidious disease. Some of the worst
offenders may not, therefore, be touched by the laws.
Thus a mayor or senator who bargained for men's votes
might do more harm than a burglar who broke into a
house. Or, if a rich man led an impure life, he might
hurt the community — like a poison — as much as one who
passed counterfeit money.
Our duties to criminals. —When people have been
shut up in prison they do not cease to be our neighbors,
264 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
and we still have duties towards them. It is for their
good as well as our own that we confine them, as we would
wish ourselves to be prevented from doing injury. Idle-
ness ruins men ; it is our duty, therefore, to furnish them
employment in prison. Many criminals have no education
or trade : it is our duty to teach them how to earn an
honest living ; it is our duty to give them a fair chance to
recover, if they can, a respectable place in society. If
they cannot or will not behave themselves out of confine-
ment, it is equally our duty, for their sake as well as our
own, to keep them confined, on exactly the same principle
as we confine madmen. For no one who has shown him-
self dangerous to society has any right to be at large.
Punishment. — The ancient idea of punishment was
revenge or retaliation. It was thought that the wrong-
doer ought to suffer enough to offset the harm he had
done. The law once was " an eye for an eye." The
modern idea of punishment is to prevent more harm being
done. It is partly for the sake of society, to remove dan-
gerous persons, to warn the thoughtless against doing
wrong, and specially, if possible, to deter evil doers through
their fears; it is also designed to cure the criminal and
persuade him to become useful. Thus no punishment is
good for society which tends to make men worse. The
purpose of punishment is exactly the same as in a well-
Modes of punishment. — The modes of punishment
used to be intended to cause pain, and were often terribly
cruel, like the rack, the thumb-screw, and stoning to death.
They were inflicted also for numerous small offences, such
as ignorant or feeble-minded people might commit. These
painful modes of punishment hurt and brutalized every one
who witnessed them. They never made any one better ;
neither did they prevent crime.
THE TREATMENT OF OBIME. 265
These cruel modes of punishment have been largely
given up in the United States. We punish criminals by
fines or payments of money, by imprisonment for longer
or shorter terms, and in some States, for the crime of mur-
der, by the death penalty.
Fines. — If one has caused the State loss or cost, it is
fair that he should be obliged to make the loss good by a
payment of money. For many slight offences or for negli-
gence, as when a citizen leaves ice upon his sidewalk, a
fine is a good way to remind him not to offend again.
But fines which are a slight burden to the rich are often a
severe penalty to the poor, who are perhaps obliged to go
to jail for want of the money to pay. They lose work,
their families suffer, the cost of keeping them in jail has
to be borne by the State, and no one is better in the end.
Imprisonment. — There are certain bad, worthless, or
desperate men who doubtless ought to be shut altogether
away from human society, as we separate a case of small-
pox. There must be jails or prisons for such dangerous
characters. There are also those who are so hot-tempered,
and have so little self-control, that they need for a time to
be deprived of their liberty, till they have shown that they
can be trusted to be at large again.
It is a grave question, however, whether our laws do not
work more harm than good through our use of jails and pris-
ons. It is as if we sent cases of measles, scarlet fever, and
small-pox all to the same hospital and treated them alike.
So when young persons who have never offended before,
or when poor men who have been sent to jail for want of
money to pay a fine, are herded together with dangerous
criminals. Many are sent to jail who do not need the
stone cells and the thick walls, which are only good for
guarding the few dangerous criminals. A bad and dis-
graceful name is also given, often very unjustly, to those
266 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
who have been sent to a jail, as men fear the taint of a
malignant fever. It is harder for men to get employment
after they have been in jail, and they are likely to have
made bad associates. It is a terrible thing, therefore, to
expose any one to the penalty of imprisonment, unless it
proves to be necessary. Moreover, it is very expensive to
shut thousands of men and women in prison, and we ought
to be sure that the imprisonment does good enough to
warrant the cost.
The death penalty. — The savage law has always been
"a life for a life.'' The death penalty is the survival of
the old custom. In many States this penalty has been
changed to imprisonment for life. The fact is that the
death penalty has never prevented bad or hot-tempered
men from committing murder, neither has it made careless
men feel the sacredness of human life. Moreover, few
persons would be willing to inflict the death penalty upon
another. It is not well to require a sheriff or officer to
do that which conscientious citizens would be unwilling
themselves to do.
The rights of wrong-doers. — Every man has the right
to be treated as innocent until his guilt is proved. If
found guilty, he has a right not to be thought worse than
he really is. If he has done wrong in one point, it does not
follow that he is altogether bad. In fact, a criminal keeps
all his rights, except such as he has distinctly forfeited by
his offence. He still has the right to be treated as a man.
But he may have thrown away the right to be believed, or
to be trusted, or to his freedom, or to his franchise as a
citizen. What right he has thrown away depends upon
the nature of his offence. He may not deserve to be
trusted or believed, but he may not have wholly sacrificed
the right to his liberty. Another may be honest or truth-
THE TREATMENT OF CRIME. 261
ful, but so violent or bad-tempered as to have lost his
right to liberty. Another may be safe and decent while
he is kept out of the way of intoxicating drink, but very
dangerous where drink is accessible.
Even the right to life may be forfeited in case a bad life
threatens the welfare of society. Thus if there were no
prisons to confine dangerous persons, it might be neces-
sary, as in the army, to sacrifice the life of murderous
men, since society must somehow protect the weaker and
innocent from the violence of bad men, precisely as it
would defend them from ferocious animals. Indeed, one
should much prefer to die than to be allowed to destroy
society. If, then, we deem it best, on the whole, to give
up the death penalty, it is not because desperate men,
such as train-wreckers or incendiaries, have any longer a
right to live.
What we ought to do. — We ought to give every
offender a prompt and speedy trial. For this end we
should improve the slow and cumbrous machinery of our
laws, which frequently impose great delay and expense.
We ought to adapt punishments to the nature of the
offence, so as to carry with us the offender's sense of jus-
tice. We should not lightly lock men up in jail, or throw
them into the company of hardened offenders.
We ought to divide public offenders into different classes
and treat them accordingly. Some would most fairly be
required to work, as, for example, on the public streets.
Some would need to be sent away to public farms or shops.
where they could learn a trade and acquire habits of self-
control. As soon as they could be trusted, they should
1)0 given a trial of their freedom again. Some could be
entrusted, like the harmless insane, to the care of discreet
and friendly persons in different parts of the State. Those
268 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
only who needed restraint should be locked behind walls
We should probably do wisely, when prisoners work, to
credit them with a part of the product of their labor. This
might go either to support their families or to provide them
with means to secure an honest living when they come
out of prison. We ought also, when they come back to
society, to see that they are befriended and helped to find
The indeterminate sentence. — The old and barbarous
custom was to assign to every offence a particular penalty,
— as of so many stripes, or so long an imprisonment for
stealing a loaf of bread. It was as if a physician treated
every case of pneumonia with the same dose of medicine.
The new way is to treat each case with some regard to the
circumstances. The " indeterminate sentence " means that
the judge does not prescribe how long an offender must be
confined. By good behavior he may soon prove that he
can safely be trusted to return to his home. For all that
the State desires is that he shall take his place in the ranks
of the good citizens. But otherwise he ought never to be
set free to do harm. Some States already use the inde-
terminate sentence. The laws ought to allow its more
Prison reform. — In some States prisoners are largely
kept in idleness, especially in the county jails. Nothing is
done to help them to earn a decent living after they are
discharged. There is a prejudice against prison work, lest
the wages paid for it may lessen the wages of men out of
prison ; although it is evident that if prisoners do nothing
for their support, they must be kept at the cost of the
In some States again, especially in the South, prisoners
THE TREATMENT OF CRIME. 269
are hired out to contractors, who pay the State for their
labor. The contractors then try to make as much money
as they can out of their bargain, as if they had hired so
many cattle, but do not try to help the men to become
A few States, notably New York, have adopted new
methods in the care of prisons, in order to educate and
reform the men and women committed to their keeping.
In Elmira Prison, for example, the men are divided into
classes according to their conduct. They may earn the
right to be trusted. They are treated as fellow-men and
taught trades. The indeterminate sentence is used, and
" tickets-of-leave " are given on good behavior, entitling
the men to release from prison, as long as they use their
As we have seen, very much remains to be done, even
in the most progressive States, in getting rid of old ideas
of punishment, and learning to treat prisoners with a view
both to their good and to the best interests of society.
The power of pardon. — In the early days the king
could pardon an offender. Now that the people are
sovereign, the governor, or in certain cases the President,
has the power, as representing the people, to grant pardons ;
as it is his duty in capital punishment to sign the death
warrant. But the power of pardon has been found liable
to great abuse. It is, therefore, believed by many careful
persons that the granting of pardons, as well as the care of
prisons and the proper treatment of offenders, ought to be
given to a board of the wisest men and women in the
State, who shall be made, like judges, responsible for their
action. In some States, as Massachusetts, there are already
Prison Commissions, but their authority and usefulness
270 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
The prevention of crime. — With crime, as with every
other evil, the chief hope of remedy is in prevention. This
requires an understanding of the causes which lead to crime.
These causes are partly the inheritance from weak or
vicious parents. Other causes are the unfortunate circum-
stances in which many live; such as bad and crowded
tenement houses, pressing poverty, and the abuse of al-
coholic drinks. Very many of the criminals, also, are
The prevention of crime consists largely in the removal
of the prevalent causes which make criminals. The im-
provement of the houses of the poor, more wholesome
sanitary arrangements, the spread of intelligence, a firm
moral training, the forming of habits of temperance and
self-control, — all surely tend to prevent crime. The
children of vicious parents have also to be taken away
from bad homes and placed under new and moral sur-
roundings. Great good is done by the societies which
thus aim to find homes for the children of the destitute.
The detection of crime. — It has become customary,
besides using police and constables, to watch against and
overtake wrong-doers, to employ a class of men called
" detectives," to ferret out crime in its hiding-places.
There are certain fair and honorable means to be used in
tracking guilt, but there is always grave danger, if the
State hires u a rogue to catch a rogue." The State thus
pays some one for lying and deception — the very crimes
which it wishes to prevent. It is very doubtful if it is
ever important enough to bring any offender to justice,
to warrant the use of tools which true men would be
unwilling themselves to handle.
Lynch-law. — In wild and half-civilized communities it
sometimes happens, for want of upright judges or righteous
THE TREATMENT OF CRIME. 271
courts, that the people take justice into their own hands.
They appoint their own judge and jury, and hurry the
culprit to punishment, sometimes with terrible injustice.
It is possible that lynch-law is better than no law : its
promptness may at times be more just than the wearing
delays of too many courts ; but its terrible spirit of revenge
and its risk of punishing the wrong person brand it as
A final caution. — There is sometimes a harsh feeling
towards criminals, as though they were a different race
from other men, or as if detection and civil punishment
made wrong-doing worse than if it had escaped detection.
On the contrary, all improvement in the treatment and
reform of crime has come from the efforts of those who,
like John Howard, held the wrong-doer to be a man like
themselves, and pitied him accordingly.
272 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
HOW TO HELP THE POOR.
It was seen, in our study of economic conditions, what
causes lead to poverty. One of the great questions which
society has to answer is, how best to help the poor. It
used to be answered very easily. Alms, it was said, ought
to be given them.
Pauperism. — This plan of giving alms was tried for
hundreds of years, till it was found that the more money
was given to the poor, the poorer they became. In some
countries, like Italy, there came to be a large class of pro-
fessional beggars. In England vast numbers of the people
became paupers ; that is, they were dependent for more or
less of their living upon the support of the government.
At last it was seen that gifts of money and of food, instead
of helping the poor, took away their manliness and inde-
pendence, and made them less capable of earning their
Moreover, when the poor could get their living for noth-
ing, honest and industrious workmen had to suffer in
consequence. This was partly because the taxes, which
always come out of the industrious people, were made
higher by the support of the poor. Besides, when much
money is given to paupers, the wages of the industrious
class are likely to fall. For the poor who are partly sup-
ported by private or public charity can afford to work for
lower wages that the industrious and independent class,
HOW TO HELP THE POOR. 273
who support themselves. The competition of pauper la-
borers, therefore, always tends to bring down wages to the
The effect is the same when any of the poor are given
board or food at less than market values. Thus we will
suppose that there are in New York ten thousand poor
girls for whom kind people provide rooms free of cost.
These girls can afford to work at perhaps fifty cents a
week less than those who have to pay the rent of their
rooms. Now employers prefer to hire the girls who can
afford to serve for the smallest wages. These employers,
again, can afford to sell their goods a little cheaper, and
other employers, who compete with them, are forced to
lower their price to the thousands of girls whose kind
friends do not furnish free lodging. Thus unwise giving
tends to hurt the people whom one meant to help.
Work not a curse. — Underneath the custom of giving
alms to the poor there was a strange old notion that work
was a curse. For it used to be thought that the most de-
sirable condition was a life of ease and idleness. This is
no longer believed. Work, if not excessive, is now known
to be favorable to health and happiness. Even the strug-
gle necessary to overcome difficulties often develops the
most successful and the noblest men and women.
Charity ; the general law. — The wisest and kindest
charity is to help the poor to help themselves. This is the
working of nature, which rewards exertion, and has all
sorts of penalties against imprudence and laziness. Thus
it is charity to find a poor man work, or to show his wife
how not to waste food, or to persuade the poor not to
spend their money in drink. It is charity to teach co-
operation among the poor, in order to provide for the
expenses of sickness. It is charity to help the children
274 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
of the poor to learn trades in which they can earn better
wages. It may be charity to start a new industry in a
poor neighborhood which shall distribute regular wages
to a great many people. It is charity to build wholesome
dwelling-houses at fair rates of rent. The greatest of
charities would be investments of capital by the rich to
enable men to become owners of their own homes.
Exceptional cases. — There are, however, certain poor
people who, for various reasons, seem unable to help them-
selves ; as the aged, the sick and feeble, and widows with
little children. There are also times in which, for want
of work or failure of the harvests, large numbers of people
are thrown out of employment. In ancient times such
people were often left to suffer terrible hardships, and to
starve to death. It is now regarded as the duty of society
to provide for these exceptional cases of poverty.
Why society relieves exceptional poverty. — The duty
of helping the needy poor, society partly owes to itself ;
because it would lessen the happiness of all and narrow
men's sympathies to witness suffering and do nothing to
relieve it. In some cases — for instance, in a famine — it
is necessary to assist the poor for the welfare and safety
of society. Society also owes its help, in cases of extreme
poverty, to the innocent and to children, of whom it is the
natural guardian. So far also as the working of bad laws
and customs has caused poverty, society ought to help pay
the penalty of its own faults. Our common humanity
specially requires us never to rest content while fellow-
men are in distress.
On these grounds the state raises considerable sums of
money by taxation to relieve distress and to support hos-
pitals and asylums. The feeble-minded and insane are
largely cared for by the state. Every city or town pro-
HOW TO HELP THE TOOK. 275
vides that no citizen or stranger, if possible, shall be left
There are many, however, who only need to be tided
over a period of misfortune, and who do not wish the
assistance of public officers. Neither is it well for any to
form a habit of looking to the public treasury to save the
trouble of helping themselves.
The fact is, the spirit of kindness and gratitude grows
whenever friends or neighbors help each other ; but kind-
ness and gratitude hardly grow at all if a policeman or
official gives public aid, which comes out of the labor
of others. Moreover, friends and neighbors may render
wiser aid than officials, and know better when it may be
Who is responsible. — Near friends or relatives ought,
naturally, to help one another in misfortune. Near neigh-
bors are more responsible for one another than distant
ones. Employers ought to have friendly care for their
employees. Owners of houses ought to bear some responsi-
bility for their tenants. If relatives, neighbors, employers,
and landlords all bore their fair responsibility, there would
still be a considerable amount of distress to be otherwise
The city poor and the country poor. — In the country
the people generally know their neighbors. If any one
is in trouble, the fact is easily discovered and the causes
and circumstances are known. If sickness or accident
cause suffering, every one sympathizes and wishes to help.
When bad habits make a family poor, friendly neighbors
can see what to do in behalf of the neglected wife or chil-
dren, or may even have influence enough to change the bad
In the city, however, people often do not know their
276 THE AMEBIC AN CITIZEN.
nearest neighbors. The very poor are apt also to live
crowded together, somewhat apart from the homes of the
more prosperous. Employers may not be acquainted with
their workmen; or great corporations hire thousands of
men who are constantly changing. Often the owners of a
tenement house, where poor people live, do not know who
their tenants are, but merely collect their rent through
an agent, like the absentee landlords of Ireland. When
trouble comes, therefore, no one may at once know of it,
or what caused it, or how best to help it. Those who have
means to relieve suffering may never happen to learn of
the need of a poorer neighbor a few blocks away from their
own doors. These facts make it difficult to help the suf-
fering in a city.
What kinds of help do no injury. — We have seen that
it harms people to look to the public for support. This is
because it is unfair for one set of people to expect the rest
to work and to pay taxes, in order to give them bread, or
free soup, or clothes ; for every honorable person wishes
to give as much as he gets. The kinds of help which do
good are those which all share in enjoying and in paying
for. Thus the whole city is better off when it cleanses
and lights, or widens and improves a bad street, or requires
a dangerous or unhealthy house to be renovated or torn
down. The city cannot afford to let any of its people live
in filth or exposed to disease.
So, too, it helps every one when a town provides educa-
tion, libraries, and parks, free for all. Whatever tends to
make the citizens more healthy, capable, and intelligent,
will " help the poor to help themselves." The enlightened
commonwealth especially wishes to give every child a fair
start in life ; as a parent believes that the better equipment
his son has, the more honorable and useful he will become.
HOW TO HELP THE POOB. 277
Friendly gifts and alms : the difference. — The person
who gives alms to a beggar is like one who fires a gun
without taking aim ; for he does not know what the beggar
really needs or whether his money will not do harm. He
may give in order to get rid of the beggar. Even if the
beggar needs money, too many strangers may waste their
money upon him, to the neglect of some more needy
The gift of a friend, however, is directed with some in-
telligence. We may always hope to make some return to
a friend. The friend can have an eye upon us to see if we
make good use of his gifts, and will stop giving when the
gift does no good. Friendly gifts, intelligently directed,
not only stir our gratitude and generosity, but may leave
us more capable or useful than we should be without them.
Thus every one who receives such gifts ought to be willing
to share them. A poor person may receive friendly gifts
from a wealthier neighbor, and may himself help in turn
a more needy person.
Not alms, but a friend. — In the old-fashioned alms-
giving there was one noble thing; namely, sympathy, or
humanity. True charity aims to foster this sympathy and
to direct it to the most permanent good. It asks us to
"put ourselves in the other's place," and to think what we
should need if we were in distress. The motto of modern
charity is, u Not alms, but a friend"
What is being done. — If all the kind persons who
wished to help the poor in a city were to work, each by
himself, some needy families would receive more than their
share, while others would be quite neglected. It is neces-
sary, therefore, in order to secure efficient action, to organ-
ize people into societies. Sometimes, too, it is necessary to
organize a number of societies together, like the various
278 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
divisions of an army, so as not to interfere with each
other. This is called the Associated Charities.
The Associated Charities^ endeavors by its agents to dis-
cover what are the real needs of the poor in a city ; to find
who are worthy and deserving, and who are false or bad ;
and to send its friendly volunteer besides to those who
need friends. Sometimes employment is found for those
out of work ; or actual assistance must be obtained for a
little while ; or a suitable hospital or home must be pro-
vided, or perhaps a regular pension is needed for an aged
person or an invalid. The leisure time of many persons,
as well as the benevolent gifts of many more, are thus
directed where the most good may be done. The aim of
the Associated Charities is, as far as possible, to assist the
poorest to self-respect and self-support.
Savings banks. — The trouble with multitudes of peo-
ple is that they have nothing between themselves and want.
If, then, illness befalls them, or they are thrown out of
work, they have to run in debt or else suffer. The savings
banks enable people to put by, " against a rainy day," very
small sums to accumulate and draw interest, which would
otherwise be spent or wasted. The habit of using the
savings banks induces every one to become more indus-
trious and wards off bad habits.
Many believe that our government, like Great Britain,
ought to provide postal savings banks, so that the people
could safely invest their earnings at every post-office in
The co-operative banks are another kind of savings
bank. They also help those who save their money to
build or to own their home. The life insurance com-
panies furnish another method to encourage industry and
self-denial for the sake of one's family.
HOW TO HELP THE POOR. 279
The housing of the poor. — In some of the great cities
abroad, as Glasgow, where tenement houses have become
terribly crowded, the law permits the public authorities to
buy property and to build decent houses to be rented.
This is because the old houses were a menace to the public
safety. We have already seen that it is a grave question
how far it is well for the public to attempt to carry on
business, like building, owning, and renting houses. It
seems better that people should themselves own their
houses and be responsible for the care of them, as they so
largely do by the aid of the co-operative banks in Phila-
delphia and other cities.
Cautions. — The duty of exceptional help for the un-
fortunate poor is still attended with serious dangers. No
man must be encouraged, when ill or out of work, to
depend upon public aid or benevolent societies instead of
his own prudence and savings. It is unjust to the thrifty
and industrious, if the improvident are helped so as to fare
as well as themselves. The complaints and sufferings of
all who ask help must, therefore, be carefully investigated
before aid is rendered. The inveterate beggars must be
found out, and punished, if necessary; the intemperate
husband must not think that he can spend his wages in
drink, and have his family supported by charity. The
Associated Charities must keep careful records of the
results of their investigations.
Rich beggars, paupers, and tramps. — It must be
observed that all which we say of beggars and paupers
holds of the well-to-do class as truly as of the very poor.
It is quite as disgraceful to wish to live at the rate of five
or ten thousand dollars a year out of the labor of others,
and without doing any useful service, as to be willing to
live on a pittance from a charitable society. It is as bad
280 THE AMEKICAN CITIZEN.
to beg for an office under government in order merely to
draw the pay as to beg alms of a stranger on the street.
And he who selfishly spends the money, which others have
earned, in travelling over the world may be only a better
THE GREAT SOCIAL SUBJECTS. 281
THE GREAT SOCIAL SUBJECTS.
The growth of moral habits. — The world learns what
is right and wrong slowly, as children learn. There were
thus habits and conduct allowed in old times which civil-
ized people agree to condemn and punish. We are told
that the Spartans once taught their youth to be adroit
thieves. All the ancient nations permitted human slavery.
There were tribes who lived by raiding their neighbors ;
and cities, like Tripoli and Algiers, till recent times, whose
chief business was piracy. Whereas we have now many
laws and a long list of crimes, our forefathers long ago had
but a few very simple laws. Neither were their con-
sciences quick to protest against cruel deeds.
The great rule of morals. — Men once did wrong, like
children, without fairly seeing what harm the wrong did.
Or, they supposed that wrong did harm to others, but
did not see how it also hurt the one who committed it.
Thus when men knew that it would be bad for themselves
to be slaves, they were slow in finding out that it was bad
for themselves and their children to keep slaves. So with
brigandage and piracy. Men discovered at last that it
was not only bad to be robbed, but very bad also for a
people to live by robbery.
As fast as men discovered that any practice or habit was
hurtful, they began to call such conduct wrong, and to
make laws to prevent it. Their consciences also made
282 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
them uncomfortable at doing what they now saw was
hurtful. Thus, as soon as any man saw what harm there
was in slavery, to the masters, and to society, and to the
state, as well as to the slave, his conscience troubled him
for helping on this harm.
The rule of morals is, that whatever is found to hurt
men or harm society is wrong. That which harms may
seem at first to give some one pleasure or profit, like the
brigand's booty, or the slave's service to his master ; as a
poisonous draught may give a moment's pleasure in the
mouth, while destroying the health. It is possible, too, on
occasion, that a few men may have to suffer some harm,
as patriots who die for their country, in order to save all
from greater harm by oppression. The simple rule, how-
ever, holds good, that any conduct or habit is bad, and
therefore wrong, which on the whole hurts or weakens
society, or leaves men poorer and worse.
Moral subjects that have been settled. — There are
already many practices, such as slavery and piracy, the
harm of which civilized men have clearly found out
through very painful and costly experience. So in this
country with fighting duels, although as late as 1804 the
distinguished statesman, Alexander Hamilton, lost his
life in a duel, and Germans and Frenchmen still practise
the barbarous custom. The world has also learned the
terrible harm and social disorder that comes by unfaithful-
ness in marriage, so that the laws and men's consciences
make unfaithfulness a grave crime. "When we say that
such subjects as these are settled, we do not mean that
every one does right with regard to them, but that men
generally know the difference between right and wrong.
New questions. — There are other subjects on which
men are only now fairly learning what is right ; there are
THE GREAT SOCIAL SUBJECTS. 283
some important subjects upon which they are as yet dis-
agreed. Thus, cruelty to animals is a new crime, which
men have only lately agreed upon, and the harm of which
many men need still to see. About gambling, about purity
and the family, about the use of the alcoholic drinks, there
are still grave questions of right and wrong, which are
only slowly becoming settled.
Lotteries and gambling. — There was once a time when
our forefathers appear to have seen no harm in gambling,
and lotteries were even approved by the state, and permitted
to aid colleges and charitable enterprises. But it became
at last evident that gambling always did great harm to
society. It led to idleness and waste. The losers not only
had to suffer, but they dragged their friends to loss and
want; the winners only gained by their neighbors' losses
— a mean kind of gain ! The whole of society was poorer
and not richer by gambling, as though the body were to
try to live by devouring itself. If gambling then hurts
society, any one who for his own pleasure, or excitement,
or gain engages in it, is as truly an enemy to society as
the thief or the highwayman.
Gambling in prices, or stock speculation. — Men are
not, however, yet fully agreed as to what constitutes gam-
bling. Thus while the laws forbid lotteries and games of
cards for money, the laws cannot easily prevent men from
betting or gambling upon the rise and fall of the prices of
goods or stocks and bonds. But all kinds of betting, where
men hope to win by others' loss, hurt society precise! v
as the lotteries do. For after men have finished betting,
nothing has been done to make society richer or happier;
on the contrary, the waste of time of the losers and the
gains of the winners must at last come out of the labor
of the industrious, and leave every one poorer. Those,
284 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
therefore, who wish to get their living by the chances of
business, and out of other men's pockets, must be classed
as gamblers, and enemies to society, since no honest man
wishes to be made rich at others' expense.
The family. — Men had made various experiments in
savage times about the family, before they came to see 'the
true law of the marriage of one man to one woman. Every
other relation of men and women to each other has proved
to be fraught with mischief to society. Every other rela-
tion has done harm and wrought degradation both to men
and to women, and has proved especially bad for children.
Every other relation, then, since it hurts both the indi-
vidual and society, becomes wrong. It becomes wrong
none the less, even when in particular cases it might seem
not to do immediate harm. As a thief is still the enemy
to society, when he robs a rich man, even if he gives away
the proceeds of his theft.
Thus the Mormons in Utah became enemies to society
in reviving the barbarous habit of polygamy, and none the
less, when they did it in the name of their religion ; and
society in self-protection justly required them to stop the
The equal law of purity for men and women. — While
society has long agreed that all offences against the law
of the family are disastrous, and therefore wrong for
women, unfortunately it has been slow in seeing that the
same kind of offences against purity are equally wrong in
men. In fact, nothing is meaner for a man than to do
secretly a kind of wrong which, if every one did likewise,
would ruin society.
Whoever, then, degrades womanhood, or encourages
such degradation, puts himself in the place of the crimi-
nal. Even if he is never found out, his wrong, like that
THE GREAT SOCIAL SUBJECTS. 285
of a sneak-thief, remains the same. True men, therefore,
gladly accept the same standard of purity for men and
The marriage laws. — That which makes real mar-
riage is, of course, the love and devotion of husband and
wife. Without love and devotion marriage cannot be
real. But it is necessary to the order of society, and for
preserving the rights of children, that certain simple mar-
riage laws should be observed. The intentions of marriage
should be registered beforehand, as in Massachusetts, at
the office of the town or city clerk ; the two persons should
appear before some authorized person, a priest, or minister,
or magistrate, and affirm their serious purpose to be joined
in marriage ; and a public record should be made of each
marriage. The laws of the various states differ, and some
of them are somewhat lax. The laws also require that the
two persons shall be of suitable age. It is a pity that the
laws cannot require the husband to prove himself capable
of giving a wife proper support, or to guarantee the care
and education of children. But, as we have seen, the laws
alone cannot compel people to be thrifty, industrious, or
Divorce. — There are certain causes which prevent mar-
riage from being happy, or even tolerable. Such are un-
faithfulness, cruelty, and crime. It does not seem just to
require the life of the innocent husband or wife to be
blighted by the guilt of the other party. The state, there-
fore, which by the marriage law unites husband and wife,
may also, by a special permit, sever the bond. This is
called divorce. The authority to grant divorce is gener-
ally vested in the courts, in order that injustice may not
be done to innocent parties and to children. The reasons,
however, which are held sufficient for divorce vary in dif-
286 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
f erent States ; and this difference of custom and law some-
times helps unscrupulous persons to obtain an easy divorce.
It is unfortunate that our present laws so easily permit
the guilty, who have ruined the happiness of their marriage,
to marry again and so to endanger other innocent lives.
As we have already seen, however, it is difficult to protect
by law those who are too foolish or unintelligent to pro-
THE PROBLEMS OF TEMPERANCE. 287
THE PROBLEMS OF TEMPERANCE.
Among the moral questions which have come into view
in modern times, like the questions of slavery and gam-
bling, is the treatment of the alcoholic drinks. For in old
times, although wise men saw dangers in the use of wine
and strong drink, there were few who believed that their
use was wrong. Moreover, the manufacture of the stronger
drinks, such as brandy and wine, is comparatively modern.
The old world idea of temperance. — It used to be
thought that the only harm in the alcoholic drinks was by
their abuse. Temperance was to exercise self-control and
not to become intoxicated. As this was the general opin-
ion of the world for thousands of years, it is not strange
that multitudes still hold it; most of the foreign people
who come to our shores bring this idea with them. There
are doubtless persons who have easy control of their appe-
tites and are naturally temperate. There are probably
certain races and nations who are more temperate than
Facts upon which all are agreed. — All thoughtful per-
sons agree that the harm, the waste, misery, and poverty,
the degradation and crime which come from the use of
the alcoholic drinks are a terrible evil to the nation. The
amount of money which goes every year in the United
States to the purchase of these drinks rises towards one
thousand millions of dollars. The public cost for courts,
288 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
prisons, and police is largely increased by men's habits of
drunkenness. The children of drinking parents are apt to
have enfeebled bodies and minds. All these evils are per-
haps worse in America, on account of our stimulating cli-
mate and the somewhat nervous character of our people,
who are easily hurt by the whip of an artificial stimulant.
Moreover, the physicians, who once used wine and other
alcoholic drinks quite freely in the treatment of disease,
have discovered that they are likely to do harm rather than
good, and that their use even as medicine is extremely
It is agreed that the alcoholic drinks, as a rule, are bad
for women, whose finer nervous organization is easily dam-
aged by the poison of the alcohol ; so for men who lead
a sedentary life, as clerks, students, and men in profes-
sional work ; so especially for the young. Even the milder
alcoholic drinks contain alcohol enough to injure the grow-
It is also agreed that no one in health needs the alcoholic
drinks, as was once supposed. Indeed, extremes of heat,
cold, and exposure, such as soldiers, sailors, or explorers
endure, it is now known, are better borne by those who do
not habitually use these stimulants. The fact is, the in-
toxicating drink, the stronger it is with alcohol, acts so
much the more like a poison. If, then, the body has already
been subject to this effect, like a bow frequently bent, it
becomes less elastic.
It is agreed that the alcoholic drinks are specially insid-
ious. Their use easily grows into an enslaving habit and
begets a craving for a larger and more frequent use, which
at last becomes a disease, paralyzing the will of the patient.
It is evident that those who have decided or, especially,
hereditary taste for these liquors, expose themselves to
peril in using them at all.
THE PROBLEMS OF TEMPERANCE. 289
It is agreed that the alcoholic drinks are particularly
subject to adulteration, often with poisonous substances,
as well as to artificial strengthening with cheap and bad
alcohol. The character of many of the persons connected
with the liquor traffic is such as to make it difficult and
costly to obtain pure liquors.
It is agreed that it would be well for the great clfl
of working people and their families, who make up the
strength of the nation, if they did not touch intoxicating
drinks. The universal disuse of these drinks may be
reckoned as equal to the average increase of their wages
by one-tenth. Already, indeed, in a great many kinds of
employment, drinking men cannot get work. Thus the
Civil Service Commissioners will not recommend them as
laborers or for the police. The managers of the best rail-
roads do not want them for engineers or switchmen.
The modern or American idea. — Since the use of alco-
holic beverages does terrible harm to multitudes of indi-
viduals, and to the nation, the question is, whether the
rule does not hold good, as in the case of polygamy, slavery,
and gambling; namely, that what is so harmful to society,
is therefore wrong. This is what many say of the use
of intoxicating drinks. Their use was excusable while
men had not yet come to see the mischief which they caused.
But as it does not make slavery right that there were
some good masters, so, now that intoxicating drinks are on
the whole proved to work vast moral evils to society, it does
not make their use right, that certain individuals are able to
get a little pleasure for themselves from them. If their
use does harm rather than good to the nation, every friend
to society should let them alone. Whoever persists in
encouraging their use makes himself so far an enemy to
290 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
This new idea may be called American, because it has
made its way faster in this country than anywhere else.
But it has adherents everywhere, and especially in the
English-speaking countries, in which new ideas always
win hospitable attention.
A new moral rule. — When a new moral rule appears,
there are two stages in accepting it. First, many indi-
viduals take it up and obey it themselves ; then, when
public opinion at last becomes strong enough, and men's
consciences generally own the rule, laws are made to
express the new public opinion, and to help enforce it.
Thus many pure-hearted men gave up polygamy long
before public opinion was strong enough in the world to
make laws about it; and many individuals refused to
gamble while the laws still permitted the harmful practice.
So great numbers of people have become total abstainers
from intoxicating drinks before their neighbors have recog-
nized the new moral rule which they believe right.
The reformers. — There must always be those in society
who are pioneers, to hew the way in advance. Sometimes
these pioneers have to try dangerous experiments ; often
they have to brave the old established public opinion ; they
may even run the risk of being mistaken, or disappointed,
like the navigators who expected to discover a northwest
passage from Europe to Asia. When the pioneers endeavor
to change men's habits, customs, or laws, and establish new
and more beneficial customs, we call them reformers. Such
have been the noblest men who have lived ; for they have
not sought anything for themselves, but only the good of
society. Wilberforce in England, and Garrison in America,
were such reformers in getting rid of slavery. There are
men of the same spirit in every State, who are trying to
get rid of the old bad habit of intemperance. The reform-
THE PROBLEMS OF TEMPERANCE. 291
ers have to give up their own time, or money, or pleasure
for the good of the people.
What is being done. — All are agreed that intemperance
will not cure itself. Public opinion, therefore, already
demands certain laws to restrict the sale of intoxicating
drinks. Liquors ought not to be sold to children or to
drunkards ; they ought not to be sold by reckless and un-
principled persons ; the places of sale ought to be closed
within certain hours ; there ought to be no adulteration of
the liquors sold ; dealers who break the laws should not
only be punished, but also forbidden to sell again ; drunk-
enness perhaps should be punished.
License. — It is held by many citizens that the sale of
intoxicating drinks, like that of drugs, should only be in
the hands of authorized or licensed dealers. As the
expense to the community from drinking habits is enor-
mous, and as alcoholic drinks are not a necessity, but a
luxury, the license to sell should require a special fee or
tax. The higher this license tax is made, the smaller the
number of drinking-places will be, and the more careful
the licensed dealers will be to obey the laws. It is also for
their interest to aid the police to close unlicensed places.
License laws are favored by those who hold that there is a
proper use of the lighter alcoholic beverages, as well as a
danger of abuse. There are many, also, who, believing
such beverages to be injurious, yet favor license laws ;
partly because they do not think it possible to prevent
people by law from using these drinks, and partly because,
as long as men use them, it seems just that the dealers
should be made to bear the public loss which results from
On the other hand, if the liquor traffic on the whole
works evil, the State ought not to sanction it by granting
292 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
licenses, as it is not willing to license lotteries. Moreover,
it is thought to be undemocratic to permit the rich to sell
liquors, but to forbid the poor, who cannot afford to pay
the license fee.
The drinking-saloon. — The saloon is a place where
almost nothing is sold except intoxicating drinks. It is
well known that these drinks have their most injurious
effect when taken without food. The saloons naturally
become the resort of the most idle and worthless. There
is a strong feeling in the United States that they are a
public nuisance and ought somehow to be abolished. It
has not been found easy, however, to make a law to close
the drinking-saloons while restaurants and hotels are still
permitted to sell liquors.
Prohibition. — Many persons who see the great harm in
the alcoholic drinks hold that laws ought to be made to
prevent their sale, except strictly for mechanical or medi-
cinal purposes. They would not only have all drinking-
saloons closed ; no hotels should furnish wine to their
guests ; no grocers should sell it to their customers. In
some States, as Maine and Kansas, laws have been passed
to this effect. The same States have also made amend-
ments to their constitutions, forbidding the manufacture
or sale of intoxicating drinks. Many citizens aim at a
similar amendment to the Constitution of the United
It is always unfortunate, however, when any new law
touching men's customs and habits has to be passed over
the protest of a large minority of the people, who have not
been persuaded of the merits of the law. It is specially
unfortunate if many of those who vote for the law do not
actually keep it themselves. For these reasons the prohib-
itory laws have largely failed so far of enforcement,
THE PROBLEMS OF TEMPERANCE. 293
except in communities where public opinion already con-
Public control of the liquor traffic. — The wish to
make money tempts the liquor-dealers to try to sell as
much liquor as they can, and to sell to persons who ought
not to touch it. A plan has therefore been proposed to
put this dangerous traffic entirely into the hands of the
government, so that it shall not be for any one's interest to
get profit from it. The truth is, that there is always some
need of alcohol for science, and in the arts, and for the al-
coholic drinks as medicine, and for the aged. As long, also,
as many individuals conscientiously hold the old-fashioned
ideas about the use of wine and beer, they are likely to in-
sist upon some way of procuring their drinks, and will even
be tempted to break and evade the laws, if the laws shut
up all legitimate ways of obtaining them. The plan, there-
fore, is that the government shall provide or license certain
places where the alcoholic drinks may be purchased under
certain strict rules. They would be refused altogether to
children and drunken persons. Otherwise their use would
be left to every one's judgment and conscience, with which
the state would not venture to meddle. Harmless drinks
should be also for sale at the same places. It should be
for the interest of the person or company in charge of the
store to sell these other drinks, while there could be no
private profit from the sale of any intoxicating beverage.
This plan is called the Gothenburg system, from the
Swedish city, where it was first adopted, and where it is
thought to have done much good in diminishing intemper-
ance. Another form of this system is in successful opera-
tion in Norway.
Local option. — In some States the experiment has been
tried of permitting each town or city, or county, to de-
294 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
termine for itself whether it will license or prohibit
the sale of intoxicating drinks. Thus where public opin-
ion is already strong against drinking-habits, the people
can vote to shut up the saloons and can require their
officers to enforce the law. But where public opinion still
runs in the other direction, in great towns crowded with
ignorant persons or with immigrants accustomed to foreign
habits, and where, therefore, the will to enforce a pro-
hibitory law is lacking, it is permitted to regulate and
license the sale of liquors ; if, meanwhile, any city becomes
at last tired of its liquor saloons, it can vote to try the
other method. Thus by various experiments, the people
can learn which method is best for the public safety and
Moral education. — Besides the change in the drinking-
habits which laws aim to effect, there is a slow growth of
public opinion which works to make people temperate.
The evil physical effects of alcohol are coming to be bet-
ter known. Drunkenness, which was once respectable, is
now a disgrace. Large numbers of persons practise total
abstinence and, like Benjamin Franklin, find themselves
stronger, more prosperous, and happier in consequence.
Generous young men see that it is a poor habit for the
individual which is bad for the nation. " That cannot be
good for the bee which is bad for the hive."
INTERNATIONAL DUTIES ; OR, THE RIGHTS
AND DUTIES OF NATIONS.
INTERNATIONAL DUTIES; OR, THE RIGHTS
AND DUTIES OF NATIONS.
INTERNATIONAL LAW, AND HOW IT GROWS.
Ancient warfare. — In early times war was the common
condition in which people lived. It was thought right to
do as much harm as possible to a foreign country. A weak
nation was regarded as fair prey for a stronger nation.
Quarrels were always breaking out between neighboring
peoples. Prisoners taken in war, if not butchered, were
held as slaves. Private property was the booty of the vic-
tors. On the sea, men were even more inhumane than on
the land. Ships driven on shore or wrecked were, even
to a quite recent period, the plunder of the people of the
country on whose shores they were driven. The foreign
sailors who escaped the storm were liable to be killed if
they went on shore.
International jealousy. — War was not the only evil
which kept neighboring nations apart. Men used also to
be very jealous and suspicious of foreigners, as well as of
their customs and religion : they did not welcome foreign
immigration. It was thought necessary to put heavy and
298 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
costly restrictions on foreign trade. It was believed that
money ought not, under any circumstances, to be sent out
of the country. It used to be thought desirable to have
other countries poor.
The dawn of international rights. — There were a few
circumstances which mitigated the horrors of ancient war.
It was early held that the persons of heralds or ambas-
sadors were sacred. Though the dead were liable to be
stripped of their clothing and ornaments, their burial was
generally permitted. Sometimes a truce was agreed upon
for this purpose. The oppression of stronger tribes or
nations led the weaker to combine in confederations and
alliances. These alliances were celebrated by solemn re-
ligious oaths. The Greeks, for instance, united against
the Persians, and for a while almost stopped fighting
among themselves. The vast empires of the Assyrians
and the Persians compelled a degree of peace between
the subject nations ; and increasing travel and commerce
brought about the acquaintance of people of different lan-
guages. It was found to be more profitable to the con-
querors to spare the conquered than to destroy them. Thus
the power of Rome was built up by a wise system of tol-
erating the customs and the religion of her subjects.
Christianity. — When Christianity was established there
was a new bond among different nations ; for everywhere
there were Christians pledged to befriend each other.
Christianity, however, in spite of its benevolent principles,
did not succeed in making nations live together peaceably.
On the contrary, some of the most terrible wars came
about between Christian nations and over religious quar-
Popular government. — At last in certain countries,
and especially in England, the people came to have politi-
INTERNATIONAL LAW, AND HOW IT GROW 299
cal power. While before, war had been carried on merely
for the benefit of the rulers, or at least of the soldiers,
now the rulers were obliged to have some form of consent
from the people.
Popular intelligence. — Meanwhile, the people, having
learned to read and to think, had become more intelligent,
and therefore averse to war. They had also become better
acquainted with the people of other nations, and had found
out their good qualities. They discovered that they were
richer by trading than by fighting. Moreover, the fact
that war had become very expensive and terribly destruc-
tive worked to abate its horrors, since even bad rulers
feared to ask their people to pay its cost or run the risk of
failing in it. The growing humanity of our modern times
also insisted that respect should be paid, in case of war, to
the property, as well as to the lives, of non-combatants and
Reciprocity of interests. — People are also slowly learn-
ing that it is for their own advantage that their foreign
customers should be prosperous, and therefore able to buy
more goods and to pay their debts. As it is desirable to
have one's fellow-citizens well off, so it is desirable to have
all the different families of nations prosper together.
Thus religion and self-interest, as well as the general
humanizing influence of travel and commerce, have slowly
tended to bring nations to a more friendly feeling towards
each other, and even when war arises, to preserve some
measure of respect and sympathy towards foes, in place of
the ancient hate and cruelty.
The new sentiment. — The change which has come to
pass in the relation of states to each other may be briefly
expressed as follows : Once different peoples regarded each
other as enemies, and the prosperity of one was thought to
300 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
be the injury of another. Now they regard each other as
neighbors, and the harm of one nation is believed to be a
loss to all the others.
International law. — There have gradually been estab-
lished, partly through treaties, partly by the precedents of
usage, certain rules or laws governing the behavior of
nations towards each other, exactly as the laws of a state
regulate the behavior of citizens. International law is
the working out of the principles of justice and humanity
among neighboring nations. There are courts in each
nation which have the important duty of deciding ques-
tions of international law. The United States courts
have this jurisdiction.
THE RIGHTS OF NATION- 301
THE RIGHTS OF NATIONS.
The three purposes of international law. — We learned
that there were three purposes of government, — protection
from enemies abroad, protection from the injustice of fel-
low-citizens, and public convenience. International law
follows three similar purposes.
In the first place, it unites different nations against com-
mon enemies. Thus it aims to suppress piracy and the
slave-trade. It has rules for giving up dangerous crimi-
nals to justice.
In the second place, international law aims to secure fair
dealing among neighboring nations. There are certain im-
portant mutual rights and duties between nations which
international law aims to define. Thus treaties and usage
fix and preserve the sacredness of boundary lines, upon
which no foreign nation has a right to trespass.
Thirdly, international law aims at the general con-
venience. There are certain objects — for example, a
universal postal service — which many governments unite
to secure. Treaties and usage also serve to protect travel-
lers and foreign residents, as well as the goods of foreign
merchants, in all civilized countries. Lighthouses and
coast surveys are maintained for the interest of the com-
merce of the world.
The diplomatic service. — Ambassadors, consuls, and
other public agents, with certain powers and privih
302 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
attached to their office, are recognized by foreign govern-
ments as representing the rights and interests of their
Domestic affairs. — Every nation has a right to manage
its affairs without dictation from other nations. If France,
for example, wants a president, rather than a king, Eng-
land and Germany have no right to interfere. Likewise,
in the American Civil War, it was the right of our govern-
ment to settle our difficulties without interference from
other countries. This is the same kind of right which be-
longs to every household to make its own rules without
dictation from outside.
Foreign commerce and intercourse. — On the same
principle, every nation has a right, if it is judged to be
best, and no treaty forbids, to exclude the people or the
products of another country. China has thus the right to
forbid Europeans from residing in her territory, or to shut
out British opium. When we say that the Chinese have
a right to exclude foreigners, we do not decide whether
such action is wise or righteous. We mean that the Chi-
nese have a right, in their own country, not to be molested
by other nations. So likewise, if the safety of our insti-
tutions could be proved to require it, we should have the
right to limit foreign immigration.
The custom-house. — A nation has also a right to
require taxes or custom-dues upon the importation of for-
eign goods, and to make its own rules to govern foreign
trade. Thus nearly everything which comes into our
country has to pay a high duty ; partly to raise the reve-
nue for our national expenses, and partly because a major-
ity of those who make our laws believe that it is for the
interests of our people to make foreign cloth, books, iron,
etc., so costly that our people will be obliged to buy the
THE RIGHTS OF NATIONS. 303
products of our own industries. This ** protection," as it is
called, diminishes trade with foreign nations ; but they have
no right, because their trade is injured, or because they
think our laws foolish, to compel us to admit their goods free.
Maritime rights. — It is the right of every nation,
while at peace, that her ships should sail the seas without
molestation. That is to say, the ocean is recognized as the
great common highway, free to all. The fisheries also,
except close to shore, are common international property.
The right to the seas is limited, however, by certain condi-
tions of international law. A ship has no right, for
instance, to be engaged in the slave-trade, or to carry
material of war to belligerent nations. As soon as a ship
leaves the open sea and comes to land or into a harbor,
she must regard the rules of the country.
Rights of travel and of foreign residence. — It is the
right of every nation that her citizens, so far as they are
allowed to travel or to reside in other countries, should
have as ample protection of life and property as is afforded
to the citizens of those countries. If an American resides
in Germany or Japan, he is entitled, like a guest in a
house, to the same care which the German or Japanese
government gives any of its own people.
Authors' and inventors' rights. — It is generally held
that^writers and inventors are entitled to some compensa-
tion for their work from the public, which they instruct,
entertain, or profit. This compensation is given in the
form of copyrights upon books or patents upon inventions.
If such compensation is justly due from the country in
which the author or inventor lives, there is no reason why
it should not also be due from any other country which
uses the inventions or reads the books. The proposed
system of international patents and copyrights has its rise
in this principle.
304 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
THE DUTIES OF NATIONS.
Obvious or recognized duties. — There are certain obvi-
ous duties which nations owe each other, such as keeping
treaties and observing the usages and forms which, like
good manners among neighbors, promote convenience and
friendly feeling. It follows that each government ought
to forbid its people to do harm. to the persons or property
of another nation. Thus in our Civil War it was the duty
of the British government to forbid shipbuilders to fit out
privateers, like the " Alabama," to prey on our commerce.
Duties of honor. — Besides duties already recognized by
treaty and custom, there are further duties, which grow
out of the principle that all nations are neighbors. The
barbarous way was to make laws against foreigners as ene-
mies. A nation did right, therefore, it was thought, to
rob them if it could, through its laws and taxes, of their
share in trade. On the contrary, the laws of a nation
ought not only to secure the rights of its own citizens, but
also to regard the interests of foreigners.
As laws ought not to be designed to interfere to give
any class or individual more than a fair share, so they
ought not to be designed to interfere with the natural
working of the law of supply and demand, in order to
give a nation more than its share as compared with its
neighbors. This is not only justice ; it is for the interest
of a nation to deal fairly with its neighbors; for, as we
THE DUTIES OF NATION
have seen, the wealth of one nation is not gained out of
the losses of its neighbors, but out of their wealth. It
is therefore desirable, so far as laws and taxes can be
so arranged, to increase the prosperity of neighboring
nations rather than to diminish it.
The duties of nations towards their colonies. — Cer-
tain races, as the Greeks in old times, and the Anglo-
Saxons in modern times, have spread over the world by
planting colonies. Thus the United States were first set-
tled by colonies; and our Western Territories to-day may
be considered as eolonies from the older parts of the coun-
try. It is the duty of a nation to protect its colonists from
foreign enemies and savages, and to establish as rapidly as
possible settled government. It should be the aim of the
parent state to raise the colony to self-support and self-
government. If the colony, when established, remains a
part of the older nation, it is entitled to fair representation
in the general government. It ought then to meet its
proportionate share of the general expense.
The duties of civilized nations to the less civilized. —
The duties of nations to each other are complicated by the
fact that large parts of the world are still possessed by
barbarous or half-civilized people. Such nations either do
not recognize international obligations at all, or could not
be depended upon to keep them.
Among so-called civilized nations, moreover, conduct is
still often dictated by jealousy or enmity of other nations.
There is thus a vast difference of level between the id<
the customs, and the prosperity of different nations. It is
therefore claimed by some that certain temporary guards
and defences may have to be put up by the laws of a country
against tlie operation of bad laws and custom^ elsewhi
Thus ignorant foreign immigrants, like the Chinese, it
306 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
is said, might come to this country in such numbers as to
endanger our institutions, and might therefore need to be
restricted. Or the cheap labor of underpaid foreign work-
men, it is claimed, might threaten to lower the wages and
prosperity of our working people. So, too, the serious
misgovernment or anarchy of a half-civilized state, some
think, may call for intervention from outside, not only for
the interests of foreign residents, but also for the sake of
the oppressed native people.
To these things it may be answered that, as a rule, it is
better to trust men than to be afraid of them ; that the
more intelligent need least to fear the power or competi-
tion of the ignorant ; and that it is even more dangerous
for nations than for neighbors to meddle and interfere with
each other's affairs.
The duties of nations towards tribes of savages. —
Most of the great nations of the world have, either in their
own territory or among their colonies, various barbarous
tribes. Such tribes cannot justly be said to own the land
over which they only roam and hunt. They have no right,
therefore, to prevent settlers who will use the land from
coming to it. On the other hand, the savages have cer-
tain rights which deserve consideration. The proper treat-
ment of these rights is one of the most difficult problems.
It is the duty of a nation to give the same treatment to
the savages within its borders that it gives to other men.
Its duty is to protect them in the rights which they have
in common with all men ; as, for instance, in ownership of
the lands which they actually occupy or cultivate. It
is a duty to afford suitable education to the children of the
savage people, that they may adapt themselves to the
change of life which civilization brings. The savages
ought to be allowed to acquire independent property, as
THE DUTIES 01 NATIONI
others do; and upon proper qualification they ought to be
given a share in the government. On the contrary, it is
not a. duty to recognize savage tribes as sovereign nations,
and it is wrong to give them rations and presents, which
degrade and pauperize them.
Our Indian wards. — There are more than a quarter of
a million of Indians, mostly in the Western States, the
Indian and other Territories, and in Alaska, with whom
our government has had peculiar relations.
Most of these Indians have had assigned to them reser-
vations, or great tracts of land. Sometimes they have been
removed to these reservations by our armies after a war;
or the reservations have been secured by peaceful treaty
on the part of our government. Frequently the govern-
ment has also promised money or rations to support the
Indians, or to pay them for giving up lands which the
white people wanted to settle upon. Thus the Indians
have been pushed further west, and have been confined
within narrower limits, while the buffaloes and game on
which they once subsisted have disappeared.
The government has appointed, through the office of the
Secretary of the Interior, agents for the reservations, to
furnish supplies and to look after the interests of the
Indians, as if they were wards of the nation. White
persons were forbidden to settle upon the reservations or
to trade with the Indians. ,
Our government meant to do justly and to make the
Indians comfortable. But the reservation system made
them miserable paupers. They came to depend upon the
rations of the government. They were often given very
poor land, which they could not cultivate: and no indi-
vidual laid any land of his own. If they had anything t<>
sell, the}' were shut away by the boundary of the reserva-
308 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
tion from bringing it to market. If they were wronged,
they could not go to court to obtain justice as citizens, or
even as foreigners may. Often, too, the agent was a bad
man who used his office to make himself rich by stealing
from the supplies meant for the Indians. Thus millions
of dollars have been benevolently expended in doing more
harm than good.
New methods of treating the Indians. — The policy of
the government is now being changed in several directions.
Many schools have been established in which to educate the
Indian children in various industries. Plans have been
made to divide their land and to give them land u in sever-
alty " ; that is, private ownership of their farms, such as
white men enjoy. As fast as this is done there will be no
need of the reservations, or the agents, but the Indians can
go with their products to market, and can buy and sell
like others. They can also go to the courts to get justice.
They can have a vote and be citizens on the same conditions
as others. There will not be tribes any longer or chiefs,
but the Indians, like the negroes in the South, will become
a part of the nation.
WAR AND A l; TITRATION. 309
WAR AND ARBITRATION; PATRIOTISM.
War establishments. — In barbarous countries e very-
free man is supposed to be a soldier; in civilized nations
there is a standing army even in times of peace. In several
countries the army is numbered by hundreds of thousands
of men. Besides the enormous cost of supporting armies
and their equipments, most nations also maintain expensive
fortifications and ships of war. Hardly a year passes in
which, in some part of the world, there is not a war. The
preparation for war is thought to be one of the chief duties
of a government in time of peace. In fact, the larger part
of the taxes of the nations, to the amount of more than
two thousand millions of dollars a year, goes for war ex-
penses and to pay the interest of war debts.
The reason for war. — When one man injures another,
or a difference arises between them, there are courts which
will give justice. When, however, a difference arises be-
tween nations, or one nation injures another, there are no
courts, and the injured nation must suffer, unless it is
strong enough to enforce its rights. There are also no
police among nations to prevent one people from attacking
another. The necessity of war, therefore, grows out of
the fact that a nation cannot call upon any higher pov< r
to protect it, but must defend itself. Thus nations have
to deal with their quarrels and disputes as individuals
used to do before there were courts or police.
310 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Just and unjust war. — A just war is one in which a
nation defends itself, or protects the rights of its people or
of its allies. A just war must be for necessity, liberty, or
principle. It was a just war when England beat of! the
great Spanish Armada in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
An unjust war is one in which a nation engages for plun-
der, or to increase its territory, or for national glory, or for
any other reason than necessity, liberty, or principle.
The laws of war. — As a man, if obliged to defend
himself against a quarrelsome neighbor, is not justified in
doing unnecessary injury to life or property, or in showing
malice and rancor, so when nations are drawn into war, it
is not only cruel to do needless violence to the lives and
property of the people, but it is also for the interest of
the nations at war that nothing shall be done to prevent
friendly intercourse from being resumed as soon as possible.
Policy and humanity, therefore, alike forbid malevolent or
needlessly destructive methods of war. The international
laws of war, sanctioned partly by usage and partly by
treaties, and still imperfect, may be considered an attempt
to restrain the evils of war. These laws, for example,
forbid the use of poison against an enemy, or of assassina-
tion, or of banditti, or of guerillas, or of savage allies.
They forbid prisoners to be put to death, and require care
for the wounded. They respect private property and the
persons of non-combatants, as well as public buildings,
libraries, and works of art. They forbid the wanton de-
struction of towns. So on the seas, international law
respects the right of neutral vessels, except when carrying
"contraband of war." Certain nations already have agreed
among themselves to abolish privateering. There is a
strong feeling also against the injustice of annexing foreign
territory in war without the consent of the inhabitants.
WAR AND ARBITRATION. 311
Thus while in old times it used to be thought right to do
the utmost possible harm to an enemy, modern warfare
aims to do the least harm compatible with securing a just
and permanent peace.
Arbitration. — Ignorant or barbarous people fight ; in-
telligent people settle their differences peaceably. Thus
neighbors often agree to settle a dispute by reference to a
committee of their friends. So nations, instead of going
to war, sometimes agree to leave a question to the decision
of umpires. Thus the question of the Alabama Claims was
amicably settled between Great Britain and the United
An international court of appeal. — There is no reason
why all questions between civilized nations should not be
settled without the barbarous method of war. There might
be a permanent international court of appeal, to which all
differences among nations should be referred. All civilized
governments would bind themselves to abide by the decision
of this court, as civilized men are now bound by the laws
of the land. The power of all nations would be pledged, if
necessary, to enforce international law. The great war estab-
lishments would be mostly abolished, and nations would
adopt the higher law of treating each other as neighbors.
Patriotism and the national flag. — It is natural that
every person should have a special feeling towards his own
country. If his forefathers have lived there, if the nation
has had a memorable history, if the laws and institutions
have helped to secure freedom and prosperity, he may be
expected to have a sense of affection and loyalty to his
native land. This feeling is patriotism. It leads one to
prefer the good of the whole country to the good of only
one State. It removes the lines of north or south, and east
or west, since all sections belong to the common country.
312 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Patriotism also leads a citizen to wish to see his nation
strong, prosperous, and honored among the family of
nations. The national flag is the emblem of the common
government, and with Americans, of the union of all the
States. The patriot loves to see it flying over the public
buildings and on ships in distant ports.
A citizen's duty and responsibility bind him to his own
country, as family ties bind him to be faithful to his own
relatives. But while patriotism urges us to seek the
interest of our own country, it never requires us to serve
our own country to the injury or loss of other nations.
It is not patriotism to cry, " My country, right or wrong,"
or to help and uphold one's government in doing injustice
to another country. Thus it was patriotism in the famous
Englishman, John Bright, when he resigned his place in
the government because he was unwilling to help carry on
an unrighteous war in Egypt. Patriotism makes us wish
to see our nation strong, but it ought not to make us
wish to see other nations poor and unhappy ; as it would
be mean in a boat-race to wish for the victory of one's own
crew through accident or sickness in the other crews.
Citizens by adoption. — Patriotism does not always
require a citizen to be a native of his country. Thus
millions of people have emigrated to America, as the
fathers of all the rest once came, choosing to make this
land their home. Many of these people have been poor or
oppressed in their native land, and have come here to seek
equal rights. These citizens of foreign birth may feel a
peculiar patriotism towards the new land, which has given
them a home and the privileges of citizenship on easy
terms. They have repeatedly proved their loyalty to the
land of their adoption, . and their willingness to die in
following its flag. Neither need a man cease to love his
WAR AND ARBITRATION. 313
old home and the fatherland because he makes a new home
across the sea. Thus Knglish, and Irish, and German
Americans continue after coming here to interest them-
selves in the welfare of their native country, as well as in
the good of America.
The common humanity. — Civilization means that men
like each other more, the better they are acquainted. Relig-
ion means the same. While the ignorant and bad distrust
or fear each other, the intelligent and noble see the good in
strangers and foreigners. To use a fine old Roman saying,
they deem that nothing human is foreign. As we find out,
therefore, that no State in America can suffer without the
other States suffering also, since all are bound up together,
so we learn that no country in the world can be poor or
wretched alone, for the interests of all men are alike.
Summary. — We have seen that all matters of business
or government are interwoven with questions of right and
wrong. No one can even make a mistake or blunder,
much less do an injustice, in the conduct of his affairs,
without spreading harm or loss to others. On the other
hand, no one conquers honest success for himself alone.
Much more in politics the wrong-doing or negligence of a
single individual reacts against the welfare of the whole
state, as the public spirit of one or a few keeps the state
safe. But it is often costly to do right, and the gain seems
far away or likely to come to others, but not to one's self ;
while the wrong promises for the present to be more easy
and convenient; as when one is building a house, if he
thinks only of the present labor and expense, it is cheaper
not to put in an honest foundation and sound timber. But
if he thinks of others, foresees the coming storms, and
understands the laws of architecture, the right way to
build seems then the only possible one.
314 THE AMERICAN CITIZEN.
A bit of philosophy. — There are various reasons given
why we ought to do right. Some of them are long and
difficult to understand ; but one thing is quite certain and
simple, although very wonderful. There is in every right-
minded person a conscience, or sense of duty, which urges
us, as soon as we are shown what is right, to do it; or,
when a thing seems wrong, to refuse it. If, then, we dis-
obey conscience and do selfish, unjust, disgraceful, or base
things, we presently lose the power and will to do right;
as the tree that is bent loses the power of growing straight.
It is as though a disease had seized upon us, bringing pain
and disquiet, or blindness and decay. Whereas, if we
follow the bidding of conscience, strength, restfulness, and
gladness attend us. It is as if conscience was the organ
of moral health and soundness, as the heart governs the
circulation of the blood.
Conscience also binds us, through just and friendly acts,
to cordial, generous, and helpful relations with our fellow-
men. It will not let us hate, despise, or desert them.
Thus, as each man's conscience has free course, human
society works together in health and happiness. But dis-
obedience to conscience represses sympathy, separates us
from each other, and locks us up each one by himself, like
criminals in their solitary cells. When, therefore, any
one's conscience is repressed, it is as if one of the little
valves of a great engine failed to work.
This is not all. Duty is one of the great and constant
forces of the universe. It is stronger than any man, or all
the men who live. Whoever obeys, though no one else is
with him, is sustained, as if the universe were on his side.
For we know that whatever is right, or ought to be, must
come in the end: those who help it will succeed; those
who resist it will fail and be forgotten. For justice and
WAR AND ARBITRATION. 315
right are at the foundation of the world. We must do
• right, then, if we want to go with the victorious forces
. that make life and health both for each individual and for
The higher conscience. — There are two kinds of con-
science in men. One kind is like an engine built to draw
a train on a level track. It simply keeps one up to the
duties which habit, custom, convenience, or expediency
requires. The man with this lower power of conscience
is apt to ask at every question or crisis : What will other
men say or do ?
The higher kind of conscience is like the powerful
engine which can lift its load up a steep grade. It does
not go by convenience, but by the standard of right. It
does not ask what the custom is, but what it ought to be ;
not what others do, but what is right. The men and
women who have this kind of conscience are those who
help make the nation strong : out of their list come the
heroes, reformers, and statesmen.
BOOKS FOR REFERENCE.
[Books marked by the asterisk are specially recommended.]
Congressional Government. By Woodrow Wilson. Houghton,
Mifflin & Co.
♦The State. By Woodrow Wilson. D. C. Heath & Co.
*The American Commonwealth. By James Bryce. 2 volumes.
Macmillan & Co.
This is a most comprehensive and sympathetic account of our institutions.
The Nation. By Elisha Mulford, LL.D. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
*Our Government : How it grew, What it does, and How it does it.
By Jesse Macy. Ginn & Co.
♦Civil Government in the United States. By John Fiske. Hough-
ton, Mifflin & Co.
Mr. Fiske's book gives a very clear view of the origin and growth of Ameri-
Analysis of Civil Government. By Calvin Townsend.
Shorter Course in Civil Government. By the same author. Ameri-
can Book Co.
*How We are governed. By Anna Laurens Dawes. D. Lothrop
Politics, an Introduction to the Study of Comparative Constitutional
Law. By W. W. Crane and Bernard Moses. Putnam's Sons.
A Short History of Anglo-Saxon Freedom. By James K. Hosmek.
Charles Scribner's Son.-.
The Ancient City. By De Coulanges. Lee & Shepard.
The American Statesmen Series. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
318 BOOKS FOR REFERENCE.
More's Utopia. Edited by J. Rawson Lumby. Cambridge (Eng.)
The Statesman's Year Book. Macmillan & Co.
*Political Economy. By Francis A. Walker. Henry Holt & Co.
Either the larger book by General Walker, president of the Institute of
Technology in Boston, or the more elementary work, makes an excellent intro-
duction to the study of Political Economy.
An Introduction to Political Economy. By Prof. Richard T. Ely,
of the Johns Hopkins University. Chautauqua Press.
*Principles of Political Economy. Gide. D. C. Heath & Co.
Political Economy. An elementary text-book of the economics of
commerce. By E. C. K. Gonner. R. Sutton & Co., London.
*Political Economy. By J. E. Symes. Rivingtons, London.
Elementary Politics. By Thomas Raleigh. Henry Frowde, London.
These last three are little books, but thoughtful, simple in style, and inex-
Problems in Political Economy. By Prof. W. G. Sumner, of Yale
Manual of Political Economy. By Henry Fawcett.
Business. . By James Platt.
Money. By the same author. Putnam's Sons. , .
Natural Law in the Business World. By Henry Wood. Lee &
Work and Wages. By Thorold Rogers. Putnam's Sons.
This book gives a very interesting account of the industrial history of
Recent Economic Changes. By David A. Wells. Putnam's Sons.
Economics of Industry. By A. and M. P. Marshall. Macmillan
BOOKS FOR REFERENCE^ 319
Social Problems. Bj Henby George. Kagan Paul, Trench & Co.
Mr. Qeorge'i books are from the point of view of one who belieref thai he
has u cure for many social and political evils through " the single tax " upon
Economic and Social History of New England. 2 volumes. By
Wm. B. Weeden. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
The Publications of the American Economic Association.
The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Published at Cambridge.
Everyday Business. By M. S. Emery. Lee & Shepard.
*A Plain Man's Talk on the Labor Question. By Simon Newcomb.
Socialism, New and Old. By Wm. Graham. D. Appleton & Co.
French and German Socialism. By Richard T. Ely. Harpers.
Profit-Sharing between Employer and Employee. By N. P. Oilman.
Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
Mr. Oilman's book gives a clear aud interesting account of the history and
working of this method.
Co-operative Savings and Loan Associations. By Seymour Dexter.
D. Appleton & Co.
This book is an authority upon the Co-operative Banks.
Trades Unions : their Origin and Objects, Influence and Efficacy. By
Wm. Trant. Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.
*How to Help the Poor. By Mrs. James T. Fields. Houghton,
Mifflin & Co.
Pauperism, Its Causes and Remedies. By Henry Fawcett. Mac-
millan & Co.
Crime, Its Causes and Remedy. By Gordon Rylands. T. Fisher
The Publications of the National Prison Association.
320 BOOKS FOR REFERENCE.
Notes of Lessons on Moral Subjects. By Frederick W. Hockwood.
T. Xelson & Sons, London and New York.
Lessons on Manners. By Edith E. Wiggix. Lc lepard.
*Politicsfor Young Americans. By Charles Xordhoff. Harpers.
This is a very useful book in the form of letters from a father to his son.
Talks about Law. By E. P. Dole. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
Introduction to the Study of International Law. By Theodore D
The Readers' Guide to Economic, Social and Political Subjects. Pub-
lished for the Society for Political Education.
This last work will enable one to find the authorities upon any subjec
which he wishes to pursue thoroughly.
Mr. John Fiske's " Civil Government " contains a useful list of books, f
also does Woodrow Wilson's little book, " State and Federal Government."
The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Good Citizenship, Dr. C. F. Crehore,
Secretary, publishes a list of works on Civil Government, upon the recom-
mendation of one of their committees.